Wisconsin county programs offer energy bill assistance amid skyrocketing heat costs

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) —  The cost to heat your home is expected to increase 70% — costing the typical household almost $900 this winter.

“A typical residential customer uses about 609 therms of natural gas a season, and they paid about $498 last winter,” said Chris Ouellette, an Xcel Energy spokesman.

To help offset those costs for some, the state of Wisconsin has funds available at the county level.

“It’s not something that you hear about very often, and not a lot of people know that it’s there. It’s one of those things you don’t think of that you could get help with,” said Kristi Matz, La Crosse County’s energy assistance coordinator.

Income-based guidelines are available on the Home Energy + website. Families of four that make just under $60,000 may get assistance, but Matz says getting help can depend on many factors.

“I strongly feel that regardless of the situation, just give us a call,” Matz said.

This predicted increase largely comes from supply chain issues, Ouellette said.

“In general, production has not yet rebounded from the pandemic. There’s a greater demand for natural gas both in the country, and for exports,” Ouellette said.

That combination is causing prices to skyrocket. The cold weather season for applications in La Crosse County begins in October and runs until May 15.

“This year had about ,1500 households that we’ve helped so far in the county of La Crosse,” Matz said.

Those who live in La Crosse County can apply for assistance at the Health and Human Services building downtown. They also can call the department at 608-785-5582 or fill out an application online.

Every county in Wisconsin offers these services, too. If you would like to apply for services, Home Energy + has a map of all counties with information on where you can apply for energy assistance.

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