Energy Assistance


Joe and Marie's Story

Joe has a disability and gets monthly benefits from Supplemental Security Income (SSI). His wife Marie works in a local store, in walking distance from their home. They live in a small house Marie inherited from her aunt, and get by from month to month, with very little left over.

In September, the store where Marie works is sold and the new owner cuts Marie's hours by more than half. She looks for another job, but can't find anything near their home. In November, they sit down together and go over their expenses.

Joe and Marie's total combined income is now about $1,800 a month, and they have already spent what little savings they had. They know that last winter their heating bills went as high as $500 a month. Joe and Marie realize there is no way they are going to be able to pay their usual winter heating bills.

Their next-door neighbor tells Joe and Marie about the Low-Income Energy Assistance Program (LEAP). Joe calls 1-866-HEAT-HELP (1-886-432-8435) and talks with Ann. After asking a few questions, Ann explains, "You can fill out a paper application, or you can apply online at Colorado PEAK. Either way, you'll need copies of your current heating bill, a valid ID, and proof of your total combined income."

Joe and Marie gather the documents they need and apply online. After a short wait, they get an approval letter telling them that a lump-sum payment of $500 will be sent to their utility company, to cover some of their costs for that heating season. The letter includes information about the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP), which can pay for upgrades to make their house more energy efficient.

They contact WAP, and they qualify because they are already enrolled in LEAP. A representative from WAP does an energy audit of their home, and determines it is cost effective to air seal their home, install new storm doors, and add insulation in the attic, floors, and walls. Based on their income and resources, Joe and Marie will not have to pay anything for these improvements.

They sign a contract with WAP, and WAP schedules a crew to come do the work. When the workers are finished, an inspector comes by and agrees that everything was done correctly. Joe and Marie now have a much warmer, more air-tight home, and their monthly heating bills go down.

However, about five weeks later their natural gas furnace suddenly stops working. Frantic and with no money to pay for any repairs, Joe calls the HEAT-HELP line again and is given the MY-HEAT phone number for the Crisis Intervention Program (CIP) at 1-855-4-MY-HEAT (1-855-469-4328). A CIP technician comes the next day to check their furnace. Fortunately there is nothing seriously wrong and their furnace only needs a few replacement parts. It is soon working again, at no cost to Joe and Marie.

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