PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – The temperatures are turning cooler and people will be firing up the furnaces soon.

However, some in our area can’t afford that basic utility.

That’s where the Dollar Energy Fund comes in.

“A lot of these families are doing everything right. They’re working, they’re just trying to get by, they’re doing everything they can and just something temporary comes along like a job loss or a sudden illness or an accident,” Jody Robertson from the Dollar Energy Fund said.

The program provides one-time grants that struggling limited-income families can use to maintain or restore gas, water, and electric service.

The money, up to $500 for each utility, is available on a first-come, first-served basis.

People can start applying now, but there are income restrictions.

For most of the main utilities, a household of two has to have a yearly income of less than $31,460.

For a family of four, that amount is $47,700.

“A lot of the people that we help aren’t eligible for other programs such as when LIHEAP comes in or other state and federal programs. So, our program is above and beyond that,” Robertson said.

Families should contact their utility company directly for eligibility screening and more on the application process.

Once a family’s application is approved, the grant typically arrives within 24 to 48 hours.

“Families get what is needed to turn on their utility or to stop a termination with up to $500 per household,” Robertson said.

The Dollar Energy Fund relies on donations and they are easy to make.

You can add $1 or more right to your utility bill or you can contribute online, at http://www.dollarenergy.org/

“Every dollar we receive as a donation is matched and then we turn it out the door, 100 percent of that back to help families in need in our region,” Robertson said.

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