• What happens when you can't afford to stay warm?

    By: Kerry Kavanaugh

    Updated:

    BOSTON - From draping curtains to dressing in layers, Louise Peaffield is finding interesting ways to try to stay warm. 

    An unseasonably cold fall and skyrocketing home heating costs have created a dicey situation for many in Massachusetts. 

    Staying warm this winter may cost more for American families

    To make it worse, winter hasn't even started yet. 

    Combine these issues with cuts to the federal fuel assistance program and advocates are concerned some won't be able to heat their homes this winter. 

    "So this is where my thermostat is," Peaffield said as she showed Boston 25 News her home. "It's set at 58 degrees ... and that feels really cold. It's going to be a race as to whether even at 58 degrees, I'm going to have enough oil to get through entire heating season."

    That's especially cold for the 65-year-old who has an autoimmune disorder. She says Raynaud's Disease makes her feel even colder.

    Peaffield gets home heating assistance for her East Boston apartment. But with funding cuts, she fears she wont have enough to get through winter with the soaring price of heating oil.

    This year the federal government is sending less money to Massachusetts for heating assistance programs. 

    "It's like the perfect storm right now," ABCD Energy Director Kathy Tobin said. "The cost of oil to fill the tank is almost $800. Now, the maximum benefit is $1400. So you can't get a second fill of oil, even at the top benefit." 

    Tobin says the feds used a new calculation, which led to an $11 million cut to fuel assistance funding to Massachusetts.

    So Tobin says agencies will ask state lawmakers to fill the gap when the 2019 session kicks off.

    For now, people like Louise continue to find ways to stretch what they have.

    "At a higher temperature, you use up the oil that much faster," Peaffield said. "Of course, at a higher temperature, I'd be a lot more comfortable." 

    ABCD still encourages everyone to apply for fuel assistance. It will provide financial assistance based on need. The agency also offers weatherization programs that could improve existing heating systems and save people money.

    They don't want anyone making dangerous decisions to stay warm.

    Staying warm this winter may cost more for American families

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