Save Money at Home while on Vacation

Posted on: May 18, 2017


Summer is only one month away and many of us are already planning a weekend getaway or family vacation. Vacation is all about escaping your daily routines and spending quality time with family or friends. However, just because your house is empty doesn’t mean the appliances have stopped increasing your electric bill.

Before you get out of town, don’t forget to prepare your home for energy-savings while you’re away. Use these tips to ensure your vacation won’t be ruined by a high utility bill.

6 Energy-Saving Tips for Your Home while on Vacation

  • Water heating can account for 14%-25% of your home energy. Turn down your water heater to the lowest possible setting, or “vacation” mode.


  • Unless pets are left at home, there is no reason to keep your air conditioner running. During hot summer months, the thermostat can either be set at 85 or turned off completely. If you have a programmable thermostat, set the temperature to change on the day of arrival so you can come home to a comfortable home. If you are leaving a pet at home for a few days, be sure to keep the temperature at a safe setting and have a neighbor check on the animal frequently.


  • “Energy vampires” are items that still use a significant amount of electricity even when they are turned off. Before you leave, walk around your home and unplug every unnecessary appliance and electronic. Pay close attention to televisions, lamps, entertainment centers, coffee pots, digital clocks, cell phone chargers, electric razors, and anything else that isn’t in use while you’re away. This also eliminates possible fire hazards.


  • Lower blinds and close curtains when you’re leaving for vacation. This useful tip will prevent excess heat from entering your home.


  • Your refrigerator is one of the biggest energy hogs in your home. Conserve energy by adjusting the thermostat to a higher temperature on your refrigerator and freezer. For extended trips lasting weeks or months, empty your fridge and unplug.


  • Most importantly, make sure all lights are turned off. While leaving a light on is a good safety idea, it is a complete waste of energy. Invest in an automatic timer ($10-$20) so specific lights will turn on and off at designated times. This can discourage burglars by giving the illusion that someone is home. You can also ask a neighbor to visit your home and turn a light on at night and off during the day. It’s a simple task if they are already feeding pets or watering plants.



New program aims to help Clairton Municipal Authority customers

Posted on: May 15, 2017

Clairton Municipal Authority

The Clairton Municipal Authority, Mayor Rich Lattanzi, Clairton City Council, and Senator Jim Brewster have partnered with Dollar Energy Fund to offer an assistance program to Clairton Municipal Authority customers.

The Clairton Municipal Authority Hardship Program, administered by Dollar Energy Fund, assists eligible customers who are in threat of termination or who have had their water service disconnected as a result of non-payment of their sewage bills.

The program opens on May 15, 2017 and grants are dispersed on a first come, first serve basis while funding is available. To qualify, customers must meet household income limits, having a gross income that is at or below 150% of the 2017 Federal Poverty Income Guidelines (currently, income of $3,075 per month or $36,900 per year for a family of four.) Applicant must also have an outstanding balance on their utility bill of at least $100, and have also made a sincere effort of payment on their account in the past three months.

The maximum grant amount an eligible applicant may receive is $200, once every 12 months. Grant awards are based on need and each family’s circumstances are different. Grant amounts are determined on a case to case basis.

This program is a fund of last resort because it goes above and beyond what is available through federal, state and other programs. Funds are reserved for applicants who are experiencing a documented hardship, such as medical bills, funeral expenses, or a recent job loss.

If you meet the eligibility criteria, the best way to begin the process of receiving assistance is to contact one of our participating community based agencies to make an appointment to complete an application.

For more information on the program, including full program eligibility and application guidelines, please visit

Support Dollar Energy Fund during #SafetyNetPGH

Posted on: April 28, 2017

#SafetyNetPGHDollar Energy Fund will be participating in The Pittsburgh Foundation’s #SafetyNetPGH on May 23, 2017. #SafetyNetPGH is a one-day, online Critical Needs Alert fundraiser to seek public support for nonprofit agencies providing essential human services, such as housing, transportation, health, food and child care. Please visit our profile page on to make your contribution and assist a family in need of utility assistance.

This year, #SafetyNetPGH will replace the foundation’s Day of Giving event that has generated millions of dollars for nonprofits in all areas in the past. This event is focusing on assisting people in the region who live in or are at-risk of falling into poverty.

Maxwell King, president and chief executive of The Pittsburgh Foundation, told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, “The demand for essential human services in the region is significant enough right now, but with the policies being proposed as a result of the political sea change in the state and federal governments, future funding is at risk and demand is certain to increase.”

Giving begins at 8 a.m. and ends at 11:59 p.m. with a $25 minimum donation. Donations will receive a prorated portion of the $600,000 in matching funds provided by the Foundation. Then, the total amount will be matched dollar-for-dollar by our utility partners, making your donation go further to help even more families.

As usual, 100% of all donations and matching funds to Dollar Energy Fund will be used to support your neighbors in need. Through our unique arrangement with our utility partners, we are able to direct all charitable contributions towards providing assistance grants through our Hardship Program. No organizational operating expenses are paid through donated funds.

We hope that we can count on your support during #SafetyNetPGH.

Support Dollar Energy Fund while shopping for Mother’s Day

Posted on: April 27, 2017


Don’t forget Dollar Energy Fund while you’re shopping for that special Mother’s Day gift. Make your mother proud by donating a portion of your gift purchase through AmazonSmile to help families in need stay cool this summer.

You can use AmazonSmile the same way you use Amazon to purchase almost anything, but by using Smile, Amazon donates a portion of your purchase to your charity of choice. There is no cost to you!

To begin shopping today for your everyday Amazon goods while contributing to Dollar Energy Fund, simply go to from the web browser on your computer or mobile device. Once there, you can make us your charity of choice.

Amazon Smile has prepared a great Mother’s Day gift guide for every budget. Click here to sign in to AmazonSmile and begin supporting Dollar Energy Fund while you shop today.

Now accepting Annual Luncheon nominations!

Posted on: April 26, 2017

Did you notice someone going above and beyond for the limited-income community this winter? Dollar Energy Fund is currently seeking award nominations for our 34th Annual Luncheon in September.

Each year during the luncheon, we present the Betty Ann Simon Memorial Award and our Golden Eagle Awards to community members who make a significant impact on the lives of limited-income individuals and families served through Dollar Energy Fund’s Hardship Program.

In memory of Dollar Energy Fund’s founder, the Betty Ann Simon Memorial Award recognizes a leader who has “made significant contributions to the limited-income community through advocacy, limited-income program advancements, program creation, legislation, and program funding attainment that have assisted Dollar Energy Fund clients and limited-income individuals throughout the state build a path to self-sufficiency.” The winner of this award will be publicly recognized at Dollar Energy Fund’s Annual Luncheon. Also, Dollar Energy Fund will award the first utility assistance grant of the 2017-2018 program year in the name of the Betty Ann Simon Memorial Award recipient. We invite you to nominate a community leader for this prestigious award by completing the Betty Ann Simon Memorial Award Nomination Form. This is an excellent opportunity to recognize leaders who strive to assist the low and limited-income community and make the world a better place.

Additionally, Dollar Energy Fund’s Golden Eagle Awards are presented to multiple representatives at our partnering community-based organizations, utility companies, foundations, government entities as well as members of Dollar Energy Fund’s Board of Directors who consistently “soar above and beyond” in their efforts to help us assist our neighbors in need. If you would like to nominate a deserving individual, please complete the Golden Eagle Award Nomination Form.

All nominations must be submitted no later than Monday, August 7, 2017, to be eligible for consideration. Forms may be submitted electronically to, or via fax to Jody Robertson at 412-431-2085.

Read about last year’s winners by clicking here!

Dollar Energy Fund reaches milestone of 500,000 grants

Posted on: April 7, 2017

Dollar Energy Fund has reached a major milestone by distributing 500,000 utility assistance grants since its inception in 1983. That’s half a million households across the country that didn’t have to go without heat, electric or water.

Our organization has evolved from a small passionate group of people with the determination to help others, to become the largest hardship fund in Pennsylvania and one of the largest in the United States. We have served the limited-income community for more than 34 years by providing over $139 million in utility assistance grants to families and individuals.

We value our partnerships and the help of our donors, utility partners, community-based organizations and staff. The demand for assistance from our program has grown significantly due to increased costs of everyday living expenses, changing weather conditions and the recent unpredictability of government programs.

Dollar Energy Fund relies heavily on the generosity of individual donors. Our unique funding model provides a dollar-for-dollar match from our partnering utility companies for every donation we receive. The utility companies also make a separate donation to cover our administrative fees, so 100 percent of all individual donations are used to provide utility assistance grants to limited-income households. Dollar Energy Fund also partners with more than 450 community-based organizations throughout our service territory. These organizations handle application intake for our programs while also connecting those in need with other forms of assistance.

Likewise, we owe our success to the hard work of our staff. Dollar Energy Fund currently has a workforce of 153, including 105 full-time employees and 48 contract/temporary workers. Eight of our employees work out of the West Penn Power facility in Greensburg, PA, running West Penn Power weatherization programs.

Due to recent program and staff growth, we continue to expand our call center. The next expansion, to begin later in April, will provide us with room to accommodate 40 additional customer service representatives. Our IT department is also working on initiatives that will shorten call times and simplify the application process for customers needing assistance.

Dollar Energy Fund continues to acquire new partners with the hopes of assisting more people who are struggling to afford their utility bills. Most recently, we partnered with The Clairton Municipal Authority to establish an assistance program for customers who are in threat of termination or who have had their water service disconnected as a result of non-payment of their sewage bills. This new hardship program will begin in the next few weeks.

Our staff is also in the process of developing unique fundraising and business development opportunities with our new and existing utility partners to raise more funds and expand our service territory.

Distributing half a million grants is a major milestone, but we know there are more families and individuals out there who need our help. If you have the means to support our mission, please visit and help your neighbors in need today.

Five Pens fans win big with Dollar Energy Fund’s Fan Appreciation Night Raffle

Posted on: April 5, 2017

Once again this year, Dollar Energy Fund teamed up with the Pittsburgh Penguins to create the ultimate fan experience through our Fan Appreciation Night Raffle!

Dollar Energy Fund staff and Board Members sold raffle tickets during six Penguins games at PPG Paints Arena in March. Five finalists were selected from a pool of 1,100 entries for this one-of-a-kind opportunity. Each received two tickets to the Jim Beam© Make History™ Party Suite to watch the Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Columbus Blue Jackets final regular season game on Tuesday, April 4. One of our finalists was granted participation in the Shirts Off Our Backs selection process and guaranteed a trip down to the ice to meet a player and receive an autographed jersey.

Fan Appreciation Night Raffle

Our five finalists included Marcus Dominish, Katie O’Toole, David Lawrence, Michelle Petrina and Anthony Barilla. Before the puck dropped, each of them had the opportunity to reach into a gift bag and select a hockey puck. The bag contained four autographed pucks and one non-autographed puck. The person who received the non-autographed puck was our grand prize winner and was able to join the Shirts Off Our Backs selection process. Click here to watch the video of the finalists discovering who won the grand prize. Autographed pucks included Sidney Crosby, Phil Kessel, Kris Letang and Evgeni Malkin.

Dollar Energy Fund’s grand prize winner was David Lawrence and, through Shirts Off Our Backs, he received Chad Ruhwedel’s autographed jersey on the ice. Congrats, David!

Thank you to all of the Penguins fans who purchased raffle tickets. Each ticket resulted in a $5 donation for Dollar Energy Fund and all proceeds will be used to help our neighbors in need restore or maintain basic utility service.

Fan Appreciation Night Raffle

Fan Appreciation Night Raffle

Fan Appreciation Night Raffle

Lucky fan wins Dollar Energy Fund’s Penguins Golden Ticket Contest

Posted on: April 4, 2017

During our Cool Down for Warmth fundraiser in January, we kicked off Dollar Energy Fund’s Penguins Golden Ticket Contest in partnership with Peoples Natural Gas.

As a Pittsburgh Penguins partner, Dollar Energy Fund received one of 50 Golden Tickets, which were created to commemorate the 50-year anniversary of the team. We partnered with Peoples Natural Gas to offer our ticket as a prize through a drawing. The contest ran January 31, 2017 – March 14, 2017.

Congratulations to the winner of Dollar Energy Fund’s Golden Ticket – Marsha Obenauf!

Golden Ticket

As a Golden Ticket winner, Marsha received one of fifty commemorative, limited-edition Penguins Golden Ticket display pieces (custom made by Wendell August Forge) and two tickets to the Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Carolina Hurricanes game on Sunday, April 2.

She was joined at the game with the other Golden Ticket winners. Each winner had a one in fifty chance at winning the Penguins Golden Ticket Grand Prize, which was awarded as two FedEx Level Penguins season tickets for twenty years.

Before the puck dropped, ROOT Sports’ Dan Potash introduced the 50 lucky winners onto the ice. Phil Bourque selected one of 50 lottery balls to determine the winner of the grand prize. That winner was Pittsburgh native Vince Maromonte.

Although Vince went home with the ultimate prize, each of the 50 winners, including Marsha, collected their own special prize that ranged anywhere from use of center-ice suites, meet-and-greets, signed gear and other amazing prize packs.

Thank you to everyone who registered for their chance to win and helped us celebrate 50 years of Penguins hockey!

Golden Ticket

(Pittsburgh Penguins)

Looking Back: 2016-2017 Mid-Year Review

Posted on: April 3, 2017

mid-year review

We are halfway through our 2016-2017 program year! Check out what Dollar Energy Fund has accomplished during the past six months, with the help of our staff, utility partners and supporters.

  • Dollar Energy Fund has distributed over 17,000 grants, totaling more than $4.3 million, across the country since October 3, 2016.
  • We recently began partnerships with the South Central Connecticut Regional Water Authority and Allegheny County Sanitary Authority to provide customer assistance programs. Dollar Energy Fund is currently working with The Clairton Municipal Authority, Mayor Rich Lattanzi, Clairton City Council, and Senator Jim Brewsterto to establish an assistance program for water/sewage customers.
  • Our Cool Down for Warmth and Warmathon fundraisers grew significantly this year and raised more than $330,000 to assist approximately 950 Pittsburgh families.
  • We hosted our 8th annual Warm Your Hearth Campaign at Hearth and Home Furnishings. Efforts to date have brought our eight-year total to more than $115,000, with a generous match on all funds raised from Peoples Natural Gas.
  • The City of Pittsburgh officially declared January 31, 2017, as H20 – Help to Others Program Day. Our partnership with Pennsylvania American Water has assisted customers with their water bills for over 25 years.
  • Columbia Gas of Pennsylvania hosted a fundraiser for Dollar Energy Fund in partnership with the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, which donated 50 cents of every Pittsburgh ticket sold to Dollar Energy Fund and WQED, totaling $33,765.
  • Dollar Energy Fund benefited from Duquesne Light Company’s Power It Forward campaign through a 24-hour social media fundraiser that raised $10,000 for families in need. Duquesne Light’s staff also supported us during Kennywood Holiday Lights by collecting donations for more than 400 ornaments, raising nearly $5,000.
  • With the help of Peoples Natural Gas, we expanded our partnership with the Pittsburgh Penguins by participating in many fundraisers and promotions this season, expanding our reach and awareness in the community. Our Jerseys for Warmth Auction, Fan Appreciation Night Raffle and 50/50 raffle proceeds from the Penguins Foundation raised approximately $80,000 combined this season for local families, including a match from our utility partners. Dollar Energy Fund also participated in the Penguins Golden Ticket promotion in honor of the organization’s 50th anniversary.

Looking ahead, Dollar Energy Fund is hosting its annual Golf Classic on Friday, June 23, at Quicksilver Golf Club. Help us spread the word by visiting for more information. We have many sponsorship opportunities available.

With your help, we look forward to helping more individuals and families as this program year progresses.

Spring Energy-Saving Tips

Posted on: March 20, 2017

Today marks the beginning of spring and a new opportunity to find ways to save energy and money. Here are just a few simple things you can do to improve the comfort of your home as warmer temperatures arrive, while also saving money on utility bills.





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Award Nominations

Award nominations are now being accepted for our 34th Annual Luncheon in September 2017. Click on the forms below to find out more information and nominate someone today!

Betty Ann Simon Memorial Award Nomination Form

Golden Eagle Award Nomination Form

Read about our 2016 winners here.

Average Grant Amount = $248.66