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To The Light,

It’s that time of year when many of us are thinking ahead to the winter season and that means, among other things, preparing our homes for the cold weather. One of the steps homeowners take at this time is to look at ways to reduce heat loss in our homes.

In a typical house, 80 per cent of heat loss is caused by drafts around doors and windows as a result of poor insulation. Upgrades like improving insulation, installing new windows and doors and general draft proofing can help keep our homes warmer in the winter.

The Liberal Government of Nova Scotia continues to provide programs to assist low income families in keeping their homes warm during the winter season.

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Home Warming is a new program for low income families made available through Efficiency Nova Scotia and supported by Clean Foundation, Nova Scotia Power and the Province of Nova Scotia. Home Warming asks us to think about ways to reduce heating and power bills and provides upgrades to those Nova Scotians who qualify. Home Warming offers no-charge energy assessments to eligible Nova Scotians.

You may be one of those Nova Scotians and the Home Warming initiative will help make your home more energy efficient. To be eligible, your maximum annual household income (line 236 from your Notice of Assessment) must meet this criteria:1 person: $21,1862 to 4 people: $39,3675 or more people: $56,064

In addition to your income you must own a single unit home and be able to provide proof of ownership. It must be your current primary residence and it must be your year-round home. If you qualify for Home Warming, an energy audit will be conducted to determine the energy efficiency upgrades required. To determine if you are eligible, contact Efficiency Nova Scotia at 1-877-434-2136 (toll free) or by visiting HomeWarming.ca.

Another program for low income families is the Heating Assistance Rebate Program (HARP). HARP is available to Nova Scotians who buy energy to heat their homes with oil, electricity, natural gas, wood, wood pellets, coal or other heating sources. You may be eligible to receive a rebate on those costs and eligibility is based on program requirements. Service Nova Scotia, as of Oct. 31, is accepting applications for HARP to help with up to $200 toward home heating costs. Those who were recipients of HARP last year will receive an application automatically to ensure the process is as convenient as possible. Last year, almost 42,600 people and families received a rebate from HARP.

The new web system allows Nova Scotians to apply for the rebate online. Both those who apply online and by paper form can check the status of their application online in real time. Before now, applicants had to call Service Nova Scotia to ask for an update on their application. Those registered for direct deposit with Canada Revenue Agency can also receive their rebate directly to their bank account.

HARP paper applications will still be available by contacting the Public Inquiries phone number at 1-800-670-4357, at Access Nova Scotia locations, Department of Community Services’ offices, MLA offices and through more than 70 community groups and other locations across the province. Go to http://www.novascotia.ca/heatinghelp for more information and to apply online.

Karen Casey, MLA
Colchester North