We know both from the calendar and from the changes in the weather that winter is on the way. On top of the economic problems we already face, the Energy Information Administration has already issued warnings that the cost of many heating fuels will be higher this winter than the last. Homeowners that heat with oil will face bills that will be about $450 higher than last year and those who heat with electricity, natural gas or propane will also face increases. On top of that, there are indications that this winter could be colder than last winter, particularly in the east.
We should begin planning now to prepare our homes for the winter so that we can keep our bills within reason and do what we can to conserve energy. But many Marylanders lack the resources to weatherize their homes and may be faced with heating bills this winter that they cannot manage.
Fortunately the state Office of Home Energy Programs offers assistance in a number of ways for low-income Marylanders. The Maryland Energy Assistance Program offers assistance with home heating bills. They also offer limited assistance in repairing or replacing broken furnaces. The Electric Universal Service Program offers assistance to low income customers with electric bills. The Weatherization Assistance Program offers help to certain low income residents for things such as weather stripping, caulking, plastic window covers, etc.
Information on all these programs can be found here. On the Lower Shore you can contact your local Shore Up! office. Shore Up! is the coordinator of home energy programs for the Lower Shore. You can also find information and apply for these programs at your county social services office.
The economy is bad; lots of people are without work and energy costs are high. But these shouldn't be a reason for going without heat this winter. If it looks like you or your neighbor might not be able to afford to heat your house this winter, contact the Energy Assistance Program now. Help is available.
[The painting was done in 1839 by Andreas Achenbach and is in the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg]