As temperatures have continued to drop this winter, the need for assistance to heat homes has risen.
"It certainly meant an increase in the clients that we've seen. To date since the beginning of the program year, Oct. 1 we've had approximately a 30-percent increase in the traffic that we've seen in our office," said Ben Armstrong, regional program manager for Energy Services.
Armstrong said many individuals have a difficult time getting past their pride to ask for help. He encourages them to do so and said the program isn't there to judge people -- it exists to help them.
"There are a lot of folks out there that we're seeing for the first time, this is not something that they typically do," Armstrong said. "They've been self-sufficient and now they are finding themselves in a place where they have nowhere else to turn, and they’re in many cases, facing a choice between heating their home or maybe buying food or medication they need just to keep alive."
Armstrong is encouraging individuals who are struggling to pay their heating bills to reach out for help before their situations become too dire.
"It is a very dangerous winter," Armstrong said. "These temperatures are temperatures we haven't experienced in a long time in this area. I think folks don't always realize probably how cold it really is and how quickly things can turn bad."