With winter finally here, a lot of New Yorkers are probably paying some pretty pricey heating bills, but as our Elyse Mickalonis explains, two state leaders are trying to cut costs for families.
NEW YORK STATE -- Winter weather can make paying your heating bill a real headache, especially for those hit hard by recent disasters and the rough economy.
“How do we make sure our families stay warm in the winter and insulate and make their homes more energy efficient during these tough times?” asked Senator Kirsten Gillibrand.
Senator Gillibrand and Congressman Richard Hanna are trying to tackle that problem, they’re asking for extra federal funding for the Weatherization Assistance Program and the State Energy Program.
“The North East burns 25 percent of the country's heating oil and New York State has got enough problems with the taxes, school, property, income and others. This is a way the federal government can help,” said Hanna.
WAP pays for insulation and other energy saving improvements to be made to homes. In New York, the program is managed by the Division of Homes and Community Renewal. The money is then divvied out to local affiliates who manage the program in each county.
“Weatherization makes a big difference for a family’s ability to afford things,” said Gillibrand. “If you weatherize your home, you’re likely to save about $400 a year and that’s huge saving and it’s savings that are long lasting.”
Gillibrand wants to see more New Yorkers be able to take advantage of these programs, saying there is a real need in counties across the state.
"Last year many, many families in Broome and Tioga counties participated in the Weatherization Assistance Program, but because this program is consistently under-funded, more than 2,200 families are still on the waiting list,” said Gillibrand.
Gillibrand says New Yorkers spend on average more than $2,400 per household on energy costs, compared to a national average of about $1,800.
Anyone interested in applying for the Weatherization Assistance Program can head to www.nyshcr.org.