COLORADO SPRINGS — Assistance programs will play an important role this winter season as people struggle to keep up with the rising costs of heating their homes. News5 takes a deep dive into the information and programs available to help people manage these challenges.
In this current economic climate all of us are going to have to come up with more money to pay for a rise in heating costs. Colorado Springs Utilities says for most people that will mean paying at least 10% more on that utility bill.
"Fuel prices are rising globally and nationally. Here at Colorado Springs Utilities we pass our fuel costs on to our customers whether that's an increase or a decrease," said Danielle Oller of Colorado Springs Utilities.
So how much more will you have to pay to heat your home this winter? Well, it depends on your heating source, but everything is costing more.
According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration consumers can expect to pay 54% more on propane heating, 43% more on home heating oil, 30% more on natural gas heating, and 6% more for electric heating.
So any steps you can take now to make your home more energy efficient could save you some serious money.
"Doing things like sealing leaks around your windows and doors and that just keeps your hot air in and the cool air out and that helps you keep your bill down," said Oller.
We know many people may struggle to keep up with the increasing costs. If this could be you, now is the time to apply for the low income energy assistance program. If you qualify money is available to help pay those heating and other utility bills.
"We definitely would encourage people to apply sooner than later. The additional funding, when it's gone that is it. It's first come, first serve," said LEAP Program supervisor Heather Benavidez.
I'm told last heating season in El Paso County there were 15,000 LEAP applicants and so far this season which opened on November 1st there are about 4,000 applicants. Statewide application numbers appear to be up about 18% compared to this time last year.
"There are certain circumstances of course if you are over income or you're not vulnerable for the program, but I would encourage people to re-apply because sometimes circumstances do change," said Benavidez.
Colorado Springs resident Carolyn Winston didn't qualify for LEAP, but still found herself in a tough situation.
"I had an unexpected injury which put me in a financial bind and with that being said I got behind on some of my bills," said Winston.
Local organizations stepped in to connect her with Project COPE.
"They were able to pay my utility bill in full and at this point I don't owe Colorado Springs Utilities anything," said Winston.
With winter on the way, she worries about others who might face similar financial challenges and urges them to pursue programs that can help.
"It means a lot to me and I think a lot of people in the community fail to use these programs because they are thinking of their pride," said Winston. "I just really wish that this inspires somebody and helps them to use the COPE program and the LEAP program."
Here is more information and contact resources for the LEAP Program:
Goodwill of Colorado’s LEAP season began November 1, 2021, and qualified residents are encouraged to apply online at https://cdhs.colorado.gov/leap
You may also request an application by calling 1-866-HEAT-HELP (1-866-432-8435) or emailing LEAPHELP@goodwillcolorado.org
For more information on Goodwill of Colorado’s LEAP program, visit: https://goodwillcolorado.org/services/leap/
Here is more information about Project COPE:
Project COPE provides utilities payment assistance to families and individuals struggling financially due to a personal crisis or emergency.
Who qualifies: https://projectcopecs.org/get-help/index.html
Contact: (719) 448-4800 or email@example.com