By Crystal Baldwin
Heat is a precious commodity. This was an easy lesson to learn when growing up in Vermont. At my house, once the thermostat was set at 68 degrees Fahrenheit, when the front door opened, you’d hear my dad call down the hall, “Close the door, you’re letting all the heat out!” Much of the time, the door would have long been closed. But, that did not keep the puff of cold air that entered from lingering.
The cost of heat motivated my dad to be conscious about conserving it. My siblings and I did our best to do just that. We learned to bundle up in sweaters and long underwear to keep the chill off. There were never too many blankets at bedtime. I am thankful that I never felt too cold or too uncomfortable from the cold—except maybe when shoveling during a Nor’easter. This winter, my personal hope is that every Vermonter will be warm and will know how to gain access to heat.
If you or someone you know is having trouble affording heat this winter, I encourage you to seek out programs that can assist:
• Vermont’s Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program known as Fuel Assistance and Crisis Fuel can help those who qualify for the program. Vermonters seeking assistance can call 1-800-479-6151 or connect with their local Department of Children and Families or Community Action Agency.
• Community Action Agencies provide additional support through their WARMTH Program, a heating assistance program supported by private donations.
• Also, check with your fuel dealer. The Vermont Fuel Dealers Association has the “Split the Ticket Fund” that delivers free heating fuel to individuals through donations from fuel dealers, local businesses, organizations, and private donors.
• The United Ways of Vermont information and referral hotline, 2-1-1 can connect you to additional regional resources.
If you would like more information, watch the following video. The Consumer Assistance Program’s Assistant Director, Lisa Jensen, was recently on Across the Fence with the Director of Chittenden Community Action, Travis Poulin, discussing this important topic.
May you and yours be warm this winter. If you find that you are not warm, please seek out the assistance outlined above. If you are warm this winter, consider spreading warmth by checking in on neighbors with a wave or a phone call, or consider a gift of warmth to support a heating assistance program. You’ll be glad you did.