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October 30, 2006

Gov. Blagojevich launches Keep Warm Illinois campaign to prepare Illinoisans for this winter’s high home heating costs
For energy assistance and weatherization tips visit www.keepwarm.illinois.gov or call toll-free 1-877-411-WARM

CHICAGO – Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today launched the Keep Warm Illinois campaign to help Illinoisans stay warm, healthy and safe this winter.  Keep Warm Illinois is a comprehensive effort to help Illinois residents, especially the elderly, families with small children and persons with disabilities, prepare for and cope with high home heating costs this winter.  For information on energy assistance or weatherization tips, families can visit the Keep Warm Illinois website at www.keepwarm.illinois.gov or call the toll-free Keep Warm Illinois hotline at 1-877-411-WARM.  Today’s launch of the Keep Warm Illinois campaign coincides with National Weatherization Day.
“As we head into the cold weather months, we want to make sure that every family in Illinois is warm and safe.  The goal of the Keep Warm Illinois campaign is to help families across the state reduce their heating bills this winter by conserving energy, weatherizing their homes, and taking advantage of the state resources available to them,” said Gov. Blagojevich. 
Gov. Blagojevich’s Keep Warm Illinois campaign brings state agencies together to coordinate efforts in preparing communities across the state for high home heating costs this winter.  The Governor has also made grants available statewide through the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) to all eligible, low-income households.  November 1st marks the start of LIHEAP’S open enrollment period.  Through LIHEAP, a state- and federally-funded energy assistance program run by the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services (HFS), heating bill payments are made on behalf of households with incomes of up to 150 % of the federal poverty level.  
“We all have a responsibility to do whatever we can to help Illinois families make it through the cold winter months ahead, especially our most vulnerable families,” said Barry Maram, Director of HFS.  “By joining forces in this effort, we hope to assist more families than ever before.  I would urge all Illinoisans who believe they may be eligible for the LIHEAP program to apply as soon as possible.”
LIHEAP energy grant applications are processed through a network of 35 Local Administering Agencies around the state.  These agencies started accepting applications on a first-come, first-served basis from the elderly, disabled persons, and other priority households on September 1.  The winter heating program is expected to serve 300,000 households this winter with an estimated $150 million in state and federal funding.  For a complete listing of LIHEAP’s local administrating agencies and additional information about the grant program, go to www.liheapillinois.com, or call the toll-free Keep Warm Illinois hotline at 1-877-411-WARM.
Gov. Blagojevich’s comprehensive Keep Warm Illinois initiatives include:
The Keep Warm Illinois website (www.keepwarm.illinois.gov): The Keep Warm Illinois website offers a variety of no-cost and low-cost energy saving tips, a web-based tool to conduct a home energy audit, links to energy assistance programs and other resources.  The Keep Warm Illinois hotline (1-877-411-WARM) is also available as another resource for Illinois residents to learn how to save energy and get energy assistance.  
Warming Centers: The Department of Human Services will be providing warming centers in every region of the state so that anyone seeking refuge from the cold has a heated place to go when the temperature drops.  More information on the state's warming centers is available by calling the Keep Warm Illinois hotline (1-877-411-WARM). 
Energy Savings Workshops:  The Department of Healthcare and Family Services will organize community workshops statewide through community-based organizations and local governments. At these workshops, Illinois residents will have access to information from energy conservation experts on how to reduce overall energy costs.  A list of energy savings workshops can be found on www.keepwarm.illinois.gov
Illinois Energy Efficient Affordable Housing Construction Program:  The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity has grants available to non-profit housing developers that include energy efficient building practices in the rehab or construction of affordable housing units.  These building practices often bring energy savings between 50 % and 75 %.  
Winter Storm Preparation: Illinois experiences five severe winter storms each year, on average. Nearly 80 people in the United States die from winter storms and extreme cold every year, which is more than the fatalities due to tornadoes. The hazards posed by winter storms and extreme cold can be catastrophic. So, the Illinois Emergency Management Agency will offer a Winter Storm Preparation manual that includes important information on actions to take now that will increase resident’s chances of surviving winter storms and extreme cold.
Senior Safety:  If seniors lower their thermostats to reduce heating bills they can put themselves at risk of developing hypothermia, a potentially fatal condition in which the body temperature drops dangerously low. They are at an increased risk especially if they take certain medications, drink alcohol, lack proper nutrition and have conditions such as arthritis, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease. The Department of Aging will offer safety tips to Illinois seniors before winter begins to help them prepare.


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