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Programs help low-income families pay utility bills, drive down energy costs

Posted at 6:58 PM, Jul 20, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-20 20:58:12-04

CLEARFIELD, Utah — A local program is trying to help those who are struggling to pay their utility bills as Utah continues to see near triple-digit temperatures across the state.

At Utah Community Action, the HEAT Program helps households pay their power, gas and water bills year-round.

"During the summer their electric bills are much higher than their gas bills because they're paying for that air conditioning unit to run, So we can delegate more of their award to the power bill," said Angela Vega, Weatherization Manager with Utah Community Action.

Vega explained that eligible applicants for the federally funded program have to have a total household income at or below 150% of the federal poverty level.

It's something that becomes increasingly more important as temperatures continue to hover close to 100 degrees.

"We see increased heat-related sickness, we see increased mental health issues," said Vega.

Leaders say they are seeing more homes apply for the program that have a member of the elderly and disabled population as well as children.

It's a program that hits home for Vega.

"We used the HEAT program when I was little," she said. "These services really changed the quality of life that we had in the home.".

State officials said the HEAT program has been utilized quite a bit over fiscal year '22.

"This past year we processed about 32,000 applications throughout the year," said Mike Murdock, HEAT Program Manager for the Utah Department of Workforce Services.

While there are services that can help you pay your bills, there are also ways to drive down your energy costs as well.

Brad Carpenter is the Weatherization Program Manager with the Utah Department of Workforce Services.

He took FOX 13 News through a model home that was built in 2010 at the Intermountain Weatherization Training Center as part of the American Recovery Act.

He says their Weatherization Assistance Program installs energy-efficient retrofits.

"That's typically things like insulation doors, windows, mechanical equipment," said Carpenter. "If we do our job we hope to achieve a 30% energy savings and when you look at the folks that we serve those people that live in poverty that represents...a large portion of their household income,"

In all, Carpenter says they completed their program on 375 homes in Utah last year.

With both the weatherization and HEAT programs working hand in hand, Vega explained she is honored to be able to help people not only stay safe, but stay comfortable during the warm summer heat.

"Here I am today, getting to serve back to the very people that helped us through a very vulnerable time," said Vega.

If you live in Salt Lake County or in the Salt Lake Valley, you can apply for the HEAT Program by clicking here.