Archive for Thursday, November 11, 2004

Help available to deal with energy costs

November 11, 2004

Eudorans needing help with increasing natural gas prices during the winter months have several options, beginning here at home.
The Eudora Ministerial Alliance offers emergency help with utility bills. For questions or to donate to the cause, call the Rev. Jeff Shepardson at Eudora United Methodist Church at 542-3200.
Several United Way agencies in Douglas County distribute help with utilities through the Ballard Center in Lawrence. Director Diane Ensminger said those in need could call the center at 842-0729 on the first of the month when funds are made available.
Ensminger said within the first hour of calls, the funding was usually gone. The only requirement for assistance, she said was that residents meet federal poverty guidelines and income eligibility.
"Unfortunately, that's happening more and more," she said.
Ensminger said the Ballard Center would soon begin the Warm Hearts program that deals specifically with natural gas assistance.
The Salvation Army's Gift of Warmth program has funds available to qualified households for help on their primary heating bill, regardless of the energy source, natural gas or otherwise.
Funds are awarded on a first-come, first-served basis for a one-time benefit up to $300. To qualify, the household income cannot exceed 200 percent of the federal poverty guidelines.
Applications are available at the Salvation Army office in Lawrence, at 946 New Hampshire St.
To deal with natural gas costs during the winter months, Atmos Energy offers customers levelized billing, which allowed customers to spread out their natural gas payments over a 12-month period.
To enroll in the Levelized Budget Billing Program, call (888) 442-1313 or visit www.atmosenergy.com. Click to the customer service link, and go to the link for frequently asked questions about levelized billing. From there, customers can link to a sign-up form.
Atmos also suggests customers use their natural gas more efficiently. This includes insulating doors and windows; purchasing energy-efficient appliances; and installing automatic set-back thermostats. The company offers other suggestions at www.atmosenergy.com.
Atmos advises customers can also apply for energy bill assistance with the American Red Cross' program Project Deserve, or they may qualify through the Low Income Energy Assistance Program. For details, customers can call the Lawrence SRS service office at 832-3700.

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