FOLSOM — With winter on the horizon, South Jersey Gas encourages customers to prepare for the colder months ahead. For some families, keeping warm is not as simple as adjusting the thermostat and many face competing financial priorities.

"At South Jersey Gas, we know how important it is to have access to safe, reliable, affordable natural gas," said Dave Robbins, president of South Jersey Gas. “Through community outreach, our dedicated Energy Assistance team builds awareness of financial assistance programs and tools that help ensure our customers have the resources they need to meet their energy needs now and well into the future.”

South Jersey Gas wants to help customers better prepare for winter heating season by advising them of the following programs and services that can provide peace of mind when managing winter heating bills.

• The Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program provides income-qualified customers with grants to offset their winter heating bills. Eligibility factors include household size, income level and geographic location. Program recipients can combine this offer with other utility financial assistance programs. LIHEAP's application season runs from Oct. 1 through Aug. 31. For more information, including eligibility requirements and an application, call 211 or the LIHEAP Hotline at 800-510-3102.

• Universal Service Fund awards eligible participants up to $1,800 each year in monthly credits split between a customer’s electric and gas bill. Applications are available year-round. For more information, dial 211 or 800-510-3102. Income guidelines have been changed effective this program year. Customers at or below 185% of poverty level are now income eligible to apply for this monthly benefit.

• The Payment Assistance for Gas & Electric program provides a one-time grant of up to $750 to low-to-moderate-income households experiencing a temporary financial crisis. Eligible customers may receive a subsidy on both their gas and electric accounts up to $1,500 per year. This program is for customers not eligible for other programs (e.g. LIHEAP or USF) during a given enrollment period. See NJPoweron.org for additional information and an application.

• Lifeline offers a $225 grant to seniors or adults receiving Social Security Disability benefits. The benefit can be applied equally to natural gas and electric utilities. For more information dial 800-792-9745.

• NJ SHARES provides financial relief to income-eligible households not eligible for other types of assistance, in paying their energy, telephone and water bills. For more information dial 866-657-4273. Customers can also donate to support their neighbors in need through NJ SHARES at NJShares.org.

The South Jersey Gas Energy Assistance team hosts community outreach events to help determine customers eligibility and assist with program applications. Outreach dates are available online at southjerseygas.com/energyassistance. In addition to state and federal financial resources, South Jersey Gas provides customers with tools to help manage heating costs and energy savings.

• South Jersey Gas Budget Plan offers a convenient way for customers to pay a consistent amount every month for a 12-month period, based on historic usage, making household budgeting easier. Customers can enroll by calling the Customer Care Center at 800-582-7060 or at southjerseygas.com.

• South Jersey Gas Energy Efficiency Program offers resources to help customers save money while reducing their carbon footprint. Resources include home energy assessments, home weatherization for income-qualified customers that include the installation of energy saving measures, a one-stop shop marketplace for instant rebates on energy-efficient products and high-efficiency equipment loans and rebates and more.

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