Home Heating: Protect Yourself from Scams; Plus Real Tips to Save You Money

State law enforcement officials are reminding PA residents that there are criminals who will try to take advantage of you during these frigid cold temperatures.

Con artists will sometimes pose as contractors, offering to do work on your home in order to scam you out of money. According to the state law, all home improvement and repair contractors are required to provide you with specific information before beginning a project, including

  • the contractor's registration number, which must be included in all contracts, estimates and advertisements;
  • a written contract for any project costing more than $500;
  • information about the consumer's three-day right to cancel a contract;
  • details about the total sales price, and materials and labor for the project; and
  • an approximate start date and end date for the project.

Here are some tips to help save money on your heating bills:

  • Maintain your heating system by having it checked by a professional at least once a year and changing the filters regularly.
  • Replace old thermostats with programmable units to lower temperatures when your home is not occupied or you are sleeping.
  • Have adequate insulation throughout the house and around your water heater.
  • Install weather stripping or plastic sheeting to seal cracks and holes around windows and doors to prevent heat from escaping.
  • Keep your energy costs down by using space heaters or fireplaces to heat smaller rooms and conserving energy on heating, hot water and cooking.

If you or someone you know needs help paying heating bills, the Pennsylvania Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program can help both home owners and renters cover their heating costs between now and April 3. Additionally, Pennsylvania's Department of Community and Economic Development can provide free weatherization services for qualifying residents.

For assistance on LIHEAP or any other state-related service or issues, please contact my office.