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Cold weather means energy assistance programs in higher demand, plus energy saving tips for your home

Project Warm-up is a winter heating assistance program of United Way of Southeastern Connecticut which collaborates with other local service providers to meet the home heating needs of families in southeastern Connecticut. Your donation to United Way is helping families in need through programs including Project Warm-up.

Beneficiaries of the program are those families that otherwise "fall through the cracks" or between guidelines of other local, state, and federal assistance programs. When all other means of assistance have been exhausted, United Way’s Project Warm-up steps in to ensure no one freezes during the winter.

Families in need of the program are experiencing a short-term crisis such as being laid off due to downsizing, unusual medical expenses or a family emergency. Families served are represented by virtually every township in southeastern Connecticut. Support is offered for natural gas, woodstove, electric heating, and oil heat.

A local service provider can arrange for heating relief and offer case management services to empower the client to find solutions to their circumstances and avoid future crisis. Providers teach budgeting skills and discuss ways to help clients cover all the costs of living in the future, so instead of relying each year on assistance through programs like Project Warm-up, they can gain comfort and independence.

While of course no one plans for an emergency, there are ways to reduce energy costs overall in your home. Here are some suggestions from Energize CT:

  • Install clock thermostats to automatically control heating and cooling when you are home and away
  • Close heating vents and radiator valves in unused areas. Make sure that drapes and furniture do not block registers for supply or return air.
  • Set the thermostat as low as comfort permits. For instance, each degree above 68º F can add 3 percent to the amount of energy needed for heating.
  • Dust or vacuum radiator surfaces and vents frequently to cut down on heat loss. If they need painting, use a flat paint which radiates heat better than glossy paint.
  • If possible, install storm windows. If not, tightly tape heavy duty clear plastic sheets to the inside of the window frames to reduce drafts.
  • During the winter months, close your curtains or drapes at night to cut down on heat loss.
  • Check for drafts around windows and doors. Caulk and weather-strip wherever necessary to limit air leaks that could account for 15 to 30 percent of heating and cooling energy needs.
  • Fireplaces should have tightly fitting dampers that can be closed when not in use. A chimney can draw out as much as 25 percent of the heated/cooled air in your house if the damper is left open.

Find more energy- and money-saving tips at

If you or someone you know needs assistance with their home heating, please dial 2-1-1 to find a service provider as there may be other programs available before needing to access Project Warm-Up emergency funds. 2-1-1 is Connecticut’s free, 24-hour information and referral helpline made possible by your donations to United Way.