The AEP Ohio Neighbor to Neighbor Program is now accepting applications for utility assistance grants for the 2021 summer cooling season.
Through a partnership between AEP Ohio, an American Electric Power (NYSE: AEP) company, and Dollar Energy Fund, the Neighbor to Neighbor Program supports families in need with a grant applied directly to their AEP Ohio account to prevent disconnection of, or to restore their electric service. Cooling assistance is available once per program year on a first-come, first-served basis. Eligible account holders may apply through August 31, 2021, while funds are available.
“The global pandemic was extremely difficult for many families and individuals we serve in Ohio, and some continue to face significant economic challenges,” said Jon Williams, managing director of customer experience and distribution technology for AEP Ohio. “As a good community partner and neighbor, we’re committed to supporting people who are struggling to make ends meet. Through this cooling program, we can help our customers – especially the elderly and those with health problems – maintain their electric service during the hot summer months.”
Since AEP Ohio and Dollar Energy Fund launched the Neighbor to Neighbor Program in May 2009, more than $15.4 million in assistance has been granted to more than 64,000 Ohio households.
To apply, customers may contact one of the AEP Ohio Neighbor to Neighbor Program’s network of more than 120 Ohio community-based organizations. To qualify, an applicant’s total gross household income must be at or below 300 percent of the Federal Poverty Income Guidelines.
For example, a family of four earning up to $79,500 per year is income-eligible for the program. Households must have an outstanding balance on their bill of at least $50 and behind on bill payment 30 days or more. Full eligibility guidelines and application instructions can be found at AEPOhio.com/helpaneighbor.
“Dollar Energy Fund is proud to maintain its support for AEP Ohio and its efforts to serve families who find themselves in a temporary financial crisis,” said Chad Quinn, chief executive officer of Dollar Energy Fund. “The AEP Ohio Neighbor to Neighbor Program has become a very useful resource for thousands of households across Ohio, enabling them to maintain utility service when blindsided by unexpected circumstances.”
The AEP Ohio Neighbor to Neighbor Program is funded by public contributions that are matched dollar-for-dollar by AEP Ohio. Utility customers may make a contribution through their monthly AEP Ohio bill. Donations also can be made online at www.AEPOhio.com/N2N or by sending a check directly to The AEP Ohio Neighbor to Neighbor Program, Box 42329, Pittsburgh, PA 15203. Every donation to the Neighbor to Neighbor Program is used to assist eligible families residing in Ohio. Every dollar donated to the Neighbor to Neighbor Program will be matched by AEP Ohio. These matching funds and 100% of your donation will assist limited-income families residing in Ohio to afford utility service. With AEP Ohio’s generous match, your tax-deductible donation will have twice the impact!
For more information about Dollar Energy Fund and how to apply for the Hardship Program or donate to the organization, visit www.dollarenergy.org.
Summer heat is in full swing and customers around the country are experiencing temperatures well above 90 degrees. Regardless of where you live, as the weather gets warmer, you want your house to get cooler. With help from the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC), we have compiled a few energy-saving tips to help you and your family save money while staying cool and comfortable.
Check your Thermostat
The smaller the difference between the indoor and outdoor temperatures, the lower your overall cooling bill.
Every degree you raise your air conditioning thermostat above 72 degrees can save up to 3% on cooling expenses.
Fans circulate the air, keeping you feeling cooler, even at higher temperatures. A ceiling fan will allow you to raise the thermostat setting about 4°F with no reduction in comfort.
Most ceiling fans are created with a small switch that controls blade rotation. Look for this switch, and then make sure it is turning in a counter-clockwise direction.
Remember that fans cool people, not rooms, by creating a wind-chill effect. Turn fans off when you leave the room to conserve energy.
Follow the Shade & Block the Heat
Relax in rooms that do not receive direct sunlight.
Use window blinds and coverings at the sunniest time of day to reduce unwanted heat buildup.
Close off unused rooms and adjust air vents or thermostats to avoid unnecessary cooling expenses.
Don’t Add Extra Heat
Postpone using heat-producing appliances, such as clothes dryers, dishwashers and stoves until it is cooler.
Consider cooking with outdoor barbecue grills or microwaves, rather than stoves or ovens, which add indoor heat.
Avoid baths and take short showers instead. Use the spot ventilation of a bathroom fan to remove the humidity in your home.
Power OFF non-essential appliances and lights to reduce power use and unwanted heat.
Avoid Heating Your Thermostat
Do not place lamps or television sets near your room air-conditioning thermostat. The thermostat senses heat from these appliances, which can cause the air conditioner to run longer than necessary.
Use Natural Ventilation
If you live in a climate where the temperature will significantly drop overnight, turn off your cooling system and open your windows while sleeping. As soon as you wake up in the morning, close your windows and blinds to capture the cool air.
Natural ventilation works best in climates with cool nights and regular breezes.
Clean is “Green”
Clean and replace air conditioner filters regularly and make sure air circulation paths are clear.
This heat season is especially dangerous, with high temperatures breaking records. Practice heat safety with these health tips:
Dollar Energy Fund partners with utility companies and community-based organizations in 14 states, including warm-weather ones like California, Louisiana, Tennessee, and Texas. Without the means to afford air conditioning, many families suffer from the heat throughout the year.
For that reason, it is important to consider donating to Dollar Energy Fund’s Hardship Program year-round. We want to provide the most assistance possible for those who can’t afford to be comfortable.
The Jerseys for Warmth Charitable Action raised more than $64,000 to support Dollar Energy Fund and benefit local families in need of utility assistance. Our utility partners provided a dollar-for-dollar match on all donations and 100% of proceeds will be used to help an estimated 178 local families maintain or restore basic utility service.
Over two dozen Pittsburgh Penguins game-worn jerseys from the team’s 8-4 victory on March 6, 2021, versus the Buffalo Sabres, were auctioned off online. Each jersey was autographed and featured a commemorative patch authentication.
Thanks to everyone who supported the Jerseys for Warmth auction! Click here to view our upcoming fundraising efforts and find out how you can help a neighbor in need this year.
Students at Fairview Elementary School participated in an annual Read-A-Thon to help their neighbors in need. 102 students in Kindergarten through fifth grade read for a total of 31,469 minutes over two weeks and raised $9,018!
The students donated $7,414 to Dollar Energy Fund to provide assistance to families struggling to afford their utility bills due to being negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Dollar Energy Fund’s utility partners matched all donations dollar-for-dollar. Their efforts will provide approximately $15,000 in utility assistance to local families in need.
Thank you to everyone at Fairview Elementary School who participated in the Read-A-Thon. We’d also like to thank Chick-fil-A for donating free sandwich coupons to each of the participating readers.
On April 19, 2021, Dollar Energy Fund will mark its 38th anniversary of helping our neighbors in need with utility assistance. What began as a small community effort, has grown to become one of the largest hardship funds for limited-income families across the country.
Dollar Energy Fund was founded on April 19, 1983, in Western Pennsylvania by a coalition of concerned community and business leaders.
In 1983, Betty Ann Simon was working as a volunteer for KDKA’s “Call for Action,” a program that helped people find agencies to assist them in solving problems. She found herself inundated with calls from low-income individuals seeking help with their mounting utility bills. Betty Ann was compelled to help, so she reached out to her contacts from various regional religious and social agencies. This led local religious and community leaders to recognize that far too many of their less fortunate neighbors were unable to afford the cost of heat, electricity and water. In response to the growing crisis, a coalition of 24 community leaders formed Dollar Energy Fund.
Dollar Energy Fund was headquartered at Synod Hall in the Saint Paul Cathedral in Oakland. The grassroots effort started contacting utility companies and executives agreed to contribute on a dollar-for-dollar basis. For every dollar raised, the utility company would also give one dollar to help a family in need. During its first year, Dollar Energy Fund’s Hardship Program distributed $397,200 to 1,218 households in Pennsylvania.
Betty Ann worked tirelessly for two decades directly addressing the daily struggles faced by thousands of limited-income households in Pennsylvania. From her position as a founder in 1983, to her active service on the Board until her passing in 2002, she focused on developing ways to immediately provide assistance to families facing difficulties in affording safe and adequate utility service.
Our organization has since grown to become the largest hardship fund in Pennsylvania and one of the largest in the country. For 38 years, we’ve served the limited-income community by providing $170 million in utility assistance grants to more than 605,000 limited-income families and individuals.
Dollar Energy Fund began with three utility partners – Duquesne Light Company, Columbia Gas of Pennsylvania, and Peoples Natural Gas – and 24 community-based agencies in Western Pennsylvania. We expanded beyond Pennsylvania in 2008 with the addition of a Hardship Program in West Virginia. Since then, we’ve extended our reach into Ohio, Virginia, Tennessee and Maryland in 2009; Texas and Louisiana in 2011; Arkansas in 2013; California and Kentucky in 2014; Connecticut in 2016; Indiana in 2019; and most recently, Nebraska in 2020.
Today, our organization administers Hardship Programs for more than 45 utility companies across 14 states. Dollar Energy Fund partners with over 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. This approach puts at-risk households in touch with additional services—such as food, childcare and career assistance.
Our Unique Funding Model
As Betty Ann Simon intended, our unique funding model provides a dollar-for-dollar match from our partnering utility companies for almost 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.
Though much has changed since 1983, many aspects of Dollar Energy Fund remain the same. The majority of funding is obtained through private donations and matching utility shareholder credits; each Hardship Program application is reviewed individually; and the focus is still on our clients and the mission of helping neighbors in need.
As Dollar Energy Fund continues to expand, so does the need for utility assistance. Dollar Energy Fund is still working to fulfill its mission of helping families on their path to self-sufficiency. If you would like to help a neighbor in need, please visit www.dollarenergy.org/donate.
A new season brings a new opportunity to make your home more energy-efficient. Here are a few simple tips to improve the comfort of your home as warmer temperatures arrive this spring, while also saving money on utility bills.
Use the breeze at night to cool your home without switching on air conditioners.
Block the Sun
Shade your home from direct sunlight – use shades, drapes and awnings to block the sun from heating your home.
Move the cooking outside on warm spring days to keep the heat out of your home.
Clean Out the Refrigerator
By removing unneeded and expired food, air will circulate more efficiently inside the fridge. Clear dust from the coils behind your fridge to reduce energy consumption.
Adjust the Ceiling Fan
Move the small switch on the side of your ceiling fan to make the blades rotate counterclockwise and create a cool breeze. If you feel airflow when standing directly under the fan, it’s working.
Turn Down the Water Heater
Switch your water heater temperature to the warm setting (120°F).
Give AC a Tuneup
Check and replace your air filters regularly and schedule annual maintenance with a qualified technician.
Seal Air Leaks
Use low-cost caulk or weather stripping to keep warm air from seeping in.
For more tips on how to conserve water outdoors this season, click here.
Metropolitan Utilities District and Omaha Public Power District have seen a 38% increase in the number of customers requesting assistance with their bills since the pandemic began. The need, while up this past year, is constant in our communities. That’s why the utilities work so hard to generate funds for their assistance programs.
M.U.D. and OPPD are teaming up for the 14th annual Heat the Streets Run & Walk for Warmth. It takes place this Saturday, March 6. This year, it’s being held virtually via www.HeatTheStreetsOmaha.com. The event is hosted during the cold winter months to bring attention to those who struggle to keep the lights on and heat their homes.
Virtual one-mile walk price: $25 (Children 12 and under free with paid adult.)
Funds raised through registrations and donations are administered by Dollar Energy Fund and split between M.U.D.’s Home Fund and OPPD’s Energy Assistance Program.
OPPD and M.U.D. encourage participants to complete the 5K run or one-mile walk on March 6 on their own – in neighborhoods, local trails, or even on a treadmill. Participants in the 5K may submit their results online. Awards will be mailed to the first-, second- and third-place male and female runners in each of the following age divisions:
12 and under, 13-19, 20-29, 30-39, 40-49, 50-59, and 60+
Help a neighbor in need
As we head into the home stretch, the event has raised nearly $88,000 of its $100,000 goal.
“Donations in support of these programs have a significant impact in the community and further our ability to provide services to those who have nowhere else to turn,” said Chad Quinn, chief executive officer of Dollar Energy Fund.
“The pandemic has had a huge impact on demand for the services we provide,” said Maj. Greg Thompson, divisional commander of the Omaha-based Salvation Army Western Division, one of 41 agencies that partners with the utilities and Dollar Energy Fund. “We’ve seen that practically across the board.”
Inner Rail Food Hall, a collective of individual family-run restaurants at Aksarben Village, 1911 So. 67th St., is also supporting the cause. Now through March 15th, you can purchase a $12 meal to donate to local healthcare heroes working on the frontline of the pandemic. And $4 from each meal purchased will go toward local utility assistance programs.
Matt Taylor, Inner Rail regional director, said since the pandemic started last year, he’s been inspired by watching his vendors, even as they struggled to support their own families and businesses, support their neighbors in need.
“Inner Rail is a supportive place for our internal community, and a welcoming gathering place for our community at large,” he said. “We are so proud to be able to continue this service virtually and contact-free by partnering with Heat the Streets this year.”
Tanya Cook, director, M.U.D. Board of Directors, and Janece Mollhoff, director, OPPD Board of Directors, alongside her husband, Wayne Mollhoff, are co-chairing this year’s event.
“Keeping homes warm and safe has taken on an even higher priority within the last year,” said Director Cook.
Director Molhoff said it’s been wonderful to see so many come together to help lessen the burden for others. “We need to support our communities now and through the recovery.”
Distribution of funding
Funds raised are administered by Dollar Energy Fund, Inc., a registered 501(c)3, and then split between M.U.D.’s Home Fund and OPPD’s Energy Assistance Program to provide local assistance to those in need.
Dollar Energy’s Fund’s 13th Annual Warmathon, which was held on February 11, raised $175,510 during the radio-based fundraiser hosted on Entercom’s KDKA News Radio (KDKA-AM / 100.1FM). The effort will provide heat-related utility assistance for 487 additional households—more than 1,470 individuals—through Dollar Energy Fund’s Hardship Program.
“We are extremely grateful for the support given during the Warmathon because it means 487 more households in our region won’t have to face the winter months without safe utility services,” said Chad Quinn, chief executive officer of Dollar Energy Fund. “This support couldn’t have come at a better time as a high number of our neighbors are struggling right now due to COVID-related impacts. Dollar Energy Fund is proud to be a resource for those who have nowhere else to turn, especially during these difficult and unprecedented times”
This year, 241 individual donors became Neighborhood Heroes with a donation or $180 or more. A donation at this level, when combined with the utility matching funds, provides utility assistance for a household in need. All Neighborhood Heroes are entered into a drawing to win free utilities for a year.
Warmathon donors at various support levels were also eligible to receive a variety of incentives throughout the day, including gift certificates and products from event sponsors and entrance into raffles for prizes. Incentive sponsors for the event were Air Pro Heating & Cooling, Moon Golf Club, Mr. Waterheater, Levin Furniture, Totin’s Diner, Betsy Ann Chocolates, Smallman Street Deli, Sarris Candies, Oakmont Bakery, Matt Mertz Plumbing, Cucina Bella, Pizza Hut, Napa Prime Chophouse & Cigar Bar, Off the Hook, Metropolitan Windows, Altmeyer’s Bed Bath Home, Voss TV & Appliance, Nasco Roofing, Monte Cello’s, Joseph Tambellini Restaurant, Candelore’s Barking Beauties and Coit Cleaning and Restoration.
The Warmathon has raised more than $3.27 million for local, limited-income families since 2009.
Donations to support the Warmathon are still be accepted. Those wishing to contribute can do so by mailing a check to Dollar Energy Fund at Box 42329, Pittsburgh, PA 15203; or by visiting www.warmathon.com.
Dollar Energy Fund raised more than $275,000 during its 7th annual Cool Down for Warmth campaign on January 28, all with the help of local business leaders, sponsors, utility partners and many generous community individuals. The amount raised will provide assistance for approximately 765 families in Western Pennsylvania who are struggling to stay warm in their homes this winter. Though the event is over, donations are still coming in! Those who wish to help local families in need may continue to donate online at www.dollarenergy.org/donate.
Dollar Energy Fund’s Cool Down for Warmth, powered by Dynegy, took place in partnership with KDKA-TV’s Pittsburgh Today Live (PTL), and provided an opportunity for the community to make a donation in support of local families. The event typically includes the construction of a large ice house in Market Square that is open to the public, but Dollar Energy Fund had to change plans due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This year, Mastro Gourmet Quality Ice built an ice news studio and other ice sculptures in Gateway Center to be showcased during PTL’s live broadcast.
Over the course of the week, many supporters signed up on CrowdRise to raise funds and awareness for the thousands of families in our region without heat-related utility service. Many individuals and teams achieved their fundraising goals, including DLC’s Subzero Heroes, FirstEnergy, AEC Group, Pennsylvania Bar Association’s Public Utility Law Section, Columbia Gas of Pennsylvania, and Peoples. Dollar Energy Fund’s Board of Directors also exceeded its fundraising goal with the help of members, Kyle O’Connor and Michael McGrath. Others showed their support by making a donation and sharing the event on social media.
All donations from this event were matched dollar-for-dollar by our local utility partners and 100% will go directly to support local Western Pennsylvania families who are struggling to restore or maintain basic utility service.
On behalf of the limited-income households we will continue to assist this year, thank you to everyone who supported our event! Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for more updates on future fundraisers, like our Warmathon taking place on February 11.
Imagine the stress of approaching the cold months with an apprehension that goes beyond snowy roads and is instead derived from the question no family should have to ask: will I make it through the winter? Limited-income families in our city are trying to keep their homes warm so their children can sleep at night. They are struggling to keep their pipes from freezing so they can shower and cook dinner. They will stretch their thin incomes and still not come up with the necessary funds to stay warm. But, you can help!
Dollar Energy Fund’s Cool Down for Warmth, powered by Dynegy, will host its 7th annual event virtually on Thursday, January 28 in partnership with KDKA-TV’s Pittsburgh Today Live (PTL). The annual ice house will not be constructed in the middle of Market Square, but the goal of this televised campaign remains the same – to build awareness of the many families who will go without heat during the harsh winter months, while attempting to raise money for utility assistance grants.
There are many ways you can get involved and help a neighbor in need:
Sign up to participate as a fundraiser in the Cool Down for Warmth event. Create a team on CrowdRise and reach out to co-workers, family, and friends to work toward raising funds for your neighbors in need.
Make a secure, tax-deductible donation on CrowdRise. All donations will receive a dollar-for-dollar match from our partnering utility companies and 100% of the donations and matching funds will be used to provide utility assistance grants to local families in need through Dollar Energy Fund’s Hardship Program.