Many Coloradans may not be getting the help they need

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Energy Outreach Colorado has a mission to help people afford their energy costs.

And to fulfill that mission, it is so important for the nonprofit to make sure every Coloradan is aware of it, said Denise Stepto, EOC’s chief communications officer.

While EOC is reaching many Coloradans, she said, there are many more who are not getting the help they may need.

“There are a lot of people who are finding us, but a lot of people who aren’t,” Stepto said. “The pandemic has put a lot of people in crisis (and) it could easily be your next door neighbor who has fallen behind.”

Lack of employment, or becoming under employed, during the pandemic are reasons people could currently be struggling to pay their energy bills, Stepto said. But another hardship brought on by COVID-19 is the increased amount of energy needed to power devices for working from home and/or remote schooling.

“Utility bills have increased,” Stepto said, “but wages have not.”

She added that many households place utility bills as the third priority in their money management — rent and mortgage payments are first, and that is followed by food and medications.

But “you cannot live without your lights on,” Stepto said.

One cannot live without heat in the winter in Colorado, so some households may be contending with a large past-due bill they cannot pay, and possibly facing a shutoff, Stepto added. And although the upcoming summer months will bring some households’ utility bills down a bit, there are some people with health conditions that requires them to have air conditioning in their home, Stepto said.

“All of these are health and safety issues of your home,” she said. “Anybody who is concerned with their home energy costs should call.”

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