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Stay warm this winter - and save money!

Hello, blog readers! This is Gerardo Cardenas with the AARP Illinois communications team, bringing you some important and urgent news.

In spite of an unseasonably mild December, winter is back in Illinois in full force in 2012, and for all residents, but especially for low income seniors and families it's critical to stay warm through the rest of the season.

The federal government has just released an additional $863 million to help low income households with energy costs. Illinois gets about $140 million of that total through the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program, also known as LIHEAP.

This is critical funding that will help thousands of residents stay warm as temperatures keep plummeting this winter. But it's urgent that those who may be eligible apply for the assistance as soon as possible.

LIHEAP is a federal program that helps low income households, including families with children and seniors, with their home energy costs, including heating costs in the winter and cooling costs in the summer.

You can also use LIHEAP funding for insulation projects that will help make your home more energy efficient, and therefore save on utility bills. But you need to apply as soon as possible because LIHEAP funds are distributed on a first-come, first-serve basis.

With the additional funding, over $185 million are now available to Illinois residents in 2012.

In order to receive LIHEAP funding, an individual or family must be below 150% of the Federal Poverty Level - this means $16,335 for a single person and $33,525 for a family of four.

To find out if you are eligible to receive LIHEAP assistance, or to apply, please visit the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity website, or call the Energy Assistance Hotline, toll free, at 1-877-411-9276.

Don't miss out on this opportunity, and stay warm!

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