SNAP to open energy assistance program Thursday, shares advice on how to save money on bills

SPOKANE, Wash. — With the temperatures dropping into the single digits, that could put your home at risk from the elements. If you don’t take precautions now, you could be paying some hefty bills down the line.

At a mobile home in Spokane County, SNAP workers were replacing windows to keep the heat inside.

“It’s just the nature of the business. We do what we can,” said Michael Townsend with SNAP.

The mobile home had a water heater in it’s exterior wall, rather than inside like other homes. That close to the elements, the cold temperatures can cause major problems. A team wrapped the water heater with an insulated blanket.

“[It can] help with the insulation on it so it wouldn’t have so much heat loss on it and keeps the hot water tank running,” Townsend said.

If your home is insulated correctly, you’ll save energy heating your house, and Townsend said that homeowners can save 30 to 40 percent on their energy bill.

“People that [are] on fixed incomes, that really really helps them a lot,” he said.

The home was in need of some work, especially with the low temperatures this week.

“It’s really during the real cold snaps. Anything that’s in… I would say in the single digits, that’s when it becomes a real hazard.. [It’s] to keep in their pipes warm enough so they don’t freeze and burst,” he said.

So this week, it’s possible your pipes can freeze. There are a few ways to avoid that.

  • Wrap any exposed pipes with insulation
  • If your pipes tend to freeze, leave a little water running
  • Open the cabinets underneath the sink.

RELATED: Spokane City Water Department shares advice on keeping pipes from freezing this winter

If your pipes do end up freezing, Townsend says they’ll have to thaw out.

“Turn the water off to the home, finish thawing it out. Locate your split or burst in your pipe, and find the appropriate materials to replace it with,” Townsend said.

If you do need help with your energy bill, SNAP is opening up its heating bill assistance program this Thursday.

“Even if you think it should go to somebody else, we’ve got funding available and we want to help you,” said Joe Reilly, an energy supervisor with SNAP.

You can get between $100 to $1,000 toward your heating bill. You can also get wood or propane and more through the program. The organization said a shut-off notice is not needed to be eligible for assistance. You can learn more about that here.