High need for heat
While we’re climbing out of the coldest temperatures of the season, it’s going to be a while before we can turn the heat off, and there are still many families who need either the money or a way to keep warm.
However, local agencies themselves are struggling to meet their need.
Necie Smith, the Emergency Services Coordinator with the Paducah Cooperative Ministry, says they’ve received more calls than ever from families and elderly asking for a simple space heater. Smith says they just can’t meet the need right now, “A lot of people don’t have the money to heat their homes with gas, so space heaters are very much needed.”
But with no heaters to hand out, Smith knows the callers are hopeful a heater will help save on their bill. She says they either have systems that are broken in their homes or are not able to afford to heat the rest of their homes, “They could just heat the area they need heated,” says Smith.
But across town, Sandra Kelly fields heating assistance calls considered dire enough to be on the crisis level. She says a lot of the requests they field are electricity and gas bills including the eviction notices when utilities are included in the rent.
For those considered part of ‘crisis’ their power has to be in danger of disconnection or with propane levels less than 20 percent. However, Allies Services can only hand out a limited amount to those considered as part of ‘crisis assistance’, “It just depends on how much we get in our grant as to how far it can go.”
But the need for heat is still as high as ever in the Local 6 region. Smith says, “It is really sad though to see people come in, and they really can’t help themselves. They totally depend on agencies like us to help them.”
The West Kentucky Allied Services Crisis Assistance period will run through March though they try to schedule only the number of people they think they can meet with daily.
If you do have extra space heaters or can donate, the Paducah Cooperative Ministry is accepting them. Smith says they will also try to coordinate a pickup.
If you do opt to use a space heater, energy officials say there are some precautions you should take when it comes to saving on your bill.
A spokesperson for a local utility says the key is to not rely on a space heater to heat your entire home.
“But if you’re trying to heat and entire house with a space heater. That’s something we would not recommend because they’re not designed to do that, and they do use a lot of power,” said Izell White, Spokesperson for Jackson Purchase Energy.
White also recommended you compare and contrast your home’s past energy bills to monitor if one of your heat sources is using more energy than it should.