52 / 34
      41 / 32
      43 / 31

      More Ohio families seeking assistance with heating bills

      The winter weather has put some northwest Ohio residents out of work and behind on their utility payments.Sylvania Area Family Services typically encounter 50 families a year seeking help with heating bills. Less than two months into 2014, ten families have already applied.

      "They're hardworking individuals," Jason Robertson of Sylvania Area Family Services said. "They have decent paying jobs. Maybe they've fallen under hard times."

      Some applicants are school board employees hampered by snow days.

      Columbia Gas of Ohio says the average Feburary heating bill will increase 50 percent from last year.

      "There's really no need for anyone to be in that situation with the amount of help out there," Chris Kozak of Columbia Gas said. "The amount of programs that are available."

      Columbia connects struggling customers with assistance agencies.

      Thirty thousand local families reach out for assistance yearly.

      Thousands won't get the help they qualify for.

      "Contact us and let us know," Kozak said. "Looking at their name on a computer screen, we don't know that they're struggling. We don't know that they're having trouble."

      Columbia is encouraging residents to weatherize their homes.

      Proper insulation is one way to reduce the bills.