As we experience God’s blessings during this fall season, we think about colorful leaves,apple cider, a trip to the pumpkin patch, and other fun outdoor festivities. None of us really wants to think about what is right around the corner…winter (ugh!).
Some of us rake our leaves & make room in the garage for the car to be parked. Others put plastic on windows and winterize the air conditioning unit. Some people look forward to winter for the snowy fun it brings, but some of our neighbors feel anxious about the toll that higher heating bills will take on their family’s finances.
You may be thinking, “They’ll be okay, we have a Cold Weather Rule—they can’t be shut off; it’s the middle of winter.” And, you’re right, we do have a Cold Weather Rule. However, there are some common misconceptions about exactly how it works.
Actually, “THEY” (your utility company) CAN SHUT YOUR HEAT OFF.
If you find yourself in a situation where you need to rely on the Cold Weather Rule, please read through the link above carefully and follow the steps outlined. Here is a brief summary to avoid being shut off this winter:
- The Cold Weather Rule applies from October 15 through April 15.
- You MUST contact your utility provider and ask to set up a payment plan under the Cold Weather Rule.
- Keep up with your payment plan. You can be shut off if you miss a payment or make a payment less than the agreed amount.
- Take it seriously if you receive a past due notice from your heating utility provider.
If you are experiencing financial hardship, here are some budgeting tips that can help:
- Keeping a roof over your head needs to be a priority for your budget.
- Check with your utility provider to see if you can get onto a budget plan all year round.
- Utilize resources like Ruby’s Pantry or your local food shelf to free up some of your food budget, which in turn can be used for heating expenses.
- Look into whether or not Energy Assistance through Lutheran Social Service or HeatShare through The Salvation Army is an option for your household.
If you or someone you know needs assistance with accessing resources for heating costs, please call Bridges of Hope at 218-825-7682.
Thank you for helping us build Bridges!