Now that the holiday season is here, we can look forward to gathering with friends and family to celebrate traditions, new and old. The warmth of the season's festivities can often feel like a sharp contrast to the drop in temperatures outside. While gearing up for winter is never easy, there is positive news: the cost of heating your home will likely be lower this year than the previous two years. However, Maine still has some of the highest home energy costs in the country, due largely to our cold weather and reliance on oil as a heating source.
|State Rep. Jane Pringle|
Another resource available is the Low-Income Assistance Program, which assists homeowners and renters with their electricity costs by providing a credit on monthly electricity bills. The MSHA also established a Weatherization Program that provides grants to eligible individuals to help make homes airtight and more energy efficient. In order to apply, a home must be structurally sound and the household must be eligible for HEAP. For more information about the relief programs mentioned above, please visit www.mainehousing.org/programs-services.
Efficacy Maine Trust (EMT) also has resources for folks looking for help heating their homes. The agency was established to help provide incentives and rebates for those looking to lower their energy costs and reduce their carbon footprint. EMT helps thousands of Mainers afford efficiency and cost-saving tools like heat pumps and solar panels, which lower energy costs in the long run. To learn how you can utilize their services, go to www.efficenymaine.com.
If your home relies on wood as a heating source, it is essential to remember a few cautionary steps to remain safe and comfortable all season long. With safety in mind, first and foremost, it is vital to ensure that your smoke detectors are up to date. Next, schedule a chimney sweep and double-check that your wood-burning system is appropriately installed. Finally, the state has compiled a list of firewood dealers that can be found on the Maine.gov Forest Service webpage. While it is not a comprehensive list, it is meant to be a starting point for those looking to use local or heat-treated wood to stay warm.
Locally, we are fortunate to have a resource like Windham Neighbors Helping Neighbors (WNHN). The nonprofit, which can be contacted at 207-749-1336, was established by a number of Windham volunteers who work together to provide one-time emergency assistance to our neighbors who are critically low on heating fuel. All contributions to the organization go directly back to those who need it most. While it is not a long-term solution, the WNHN has a history of helping those in crisis and directing individuals toward further assistance from state and local agencies. If you are able, please consider donating to WNHN so they can continue providing emergency fuel services to our neighbors in need.
Looking toward the upcoming second session of the 131st Legislature that begins in January, I promise to continue working with my colleagues to develop and improve cost-effective methods to help Mainers remain safe and comfortable in their homes this winter. From my family to yours, happy holidays and stay warm!
State Rep. Jane Pringle is serving her second non-consecutive term in the Maine House, representing a portion of Windham. She is a member of the Joint Standing Committee on Health Coverage, Insurance and Financial Coverage. Contact her at Jane.Pringle@maine.legislature.gov <