Want to help an elderly neighbor in need this year? Grab a roll of plastic, a stapler, and a stepstool and help them cover their windows. The plastic reduces the cold air seeping into the house, which helps to lower the utility bill. Simple solutions will go a long way this year as we’re already facing cold weather and forecasts predict a harsh winter. Warm, safe, and dry housing is important year round, but it’s during this time when families need it most. There are thousands of people in Appalachia who live in houses that are barely warmer than the outdoors. Many face paying $300 a month in electric bills because their house is old, poorly insulated, and in need of repairs.
So when you’re done helping your neighbor with the windows, how about helping place some weather stripping or even remove the window AC unit? There are lots of small fixes homeowners can do to make a house warmer and more energy efficient. A list of common and effective techniques circulates the Internet every year and some can be viewed here.
What if you don’t have the time or your neighbor’s house needs more attention than you can give? Simple. Fahe’s members and many other organizations across Appalachia offer assistance with weatherization, home repairs, and financial solutions for heating bills. Many of these services are offered to low-income households for free. The problem that exists is that many people don’t know of these services. While organizations have marketing and outreach, some folks will never be touched except through word of mouth.
The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services also offers the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) that assists families in meeting their home heating and cooling needs. This is an essential service in the winter months for low-income families who face high energy bills. If you or someone you know struggles to pay their heating bills, there is a directory based on state available by clicking here.
So while it’s good to donate money to organizations so they can continue helping those in need, it’s equally important to spread the word about available services. Sometimes people won’t accept help without it being extended by someone they know. In these harsh winter months, people really need to utilize all the available resources so they can stay warm and healthy. So while you’re keeping warm this winter, don’t forget to reach out to your neighbors in need. Chances are they would do the same for you.