Spring is finally here, but many around the county are still feeling the financial effects of one of the coldest winters northern Indiana has seen in some time. This year's heating costs were high – so high, in fact, that January's bills were $36 more than they were during the same month last year. One man we spoke with saw his increase 45 percent from January 2013 to January 2014.
Fortunately for Elkhart County residents, NIPSCO is still assisting customers through a program that helps with the cost of heating bills.
The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) helps families with incomes up to 150 percent of the federal poverty level, NIPSCO's website said. To put this into perspective, a family of four could bring in up to $35,325 and still qualify.
Applications will be taken through May 16, NIPSCO's website said.
Families that are accepted into LIHEAP could also be eligible for a discount program that takes 11 to 26 percent off their bills, the Northwest Indiana Times reported. When customers apply for LIHEAP, NIPSCO automatically enrolls them in the program, the company's website said.
The Times reported that this year, LIHEAP has seen a 15 percent increase in participating customers and a 7 percent increase in the average assistance grant provided.
To apply for LIHEAP, customers must bring an Indiana photo ID, Social Security cards for everyone living in the house, a NIPSCO bill, proof of residency and proof of income to one of Elkhart County's Community Action Agencies.
To talk to someone with NIPSCO about the programs, call 1-800-464-7726. For more information on NIPSCO's financial assistance programs, check out the company's website.