Help is available for heating costs, and now is the time to sign up for it, according to the coordinator of the Senior Information and Assistance office in Carroll County.
The Maryland Energy Assistance Program (MEAP), a program administered by Human Services of Carroll County Inc., helps low-income people of any age pay for heating their homes.
Last year, MEAP saved $33,444 for 160 Carroll County individuals and families.
"We will probably do close to 200 new applications this year," said Ann U. Allen, coordinator of the county's Senior Information and Assistance office.
MEAP pays the fuel supplier directly. The assistance appears as credits on participants' fuel bills.
The amount of the grant is based on the recipient's income. The smallest grant this year is $185, Ms. Allen said.
Single people are eligible if their monthly income is $871 or less. A couple is eligible if monthly income does not exceed $1,179.
Assets are not taken into consideration. People who receive Department of Housing and Urban Development assistance also are eligible for MEAP, Ms. Allen said.
Renters are eligible as well as homeowners. Landlords who RTC accept the assistance on behalf of tenants agree to deduct the savings from the tenants' rent.
In addition to paying heating bills, MEAP also offers help with weatherization work, such as caulking around doors or covering windows with plastic sheeting.
"This is a very easy program to enroll in," Ms. Allen said. "It really is the easiest one around, and one of the most helpful."
Applicants need to show proof of income and an old fuel bill showing the account number, Ms. Allen said.
If necessary, Senior Information and Assistance staff will schedule a home visit to help a person sign up for the program, she said.
People below age 60 may apply through Human Services Programs, at 857-2999. People 60 or older apply through the Senior Information and Assistance office, at 848-4049, 875-3342 or 876-3363, Ext. 49.