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The rising cost of home heating intensifies

Treadwell is calling for a home heating oil rebate of up to $1,000 for families who use that fuel. "In our region heating your home is a necessity, not a luxury and too many people can't keep pace with soaring energy costs," said Treadwell in a statement.

Gillibrand is giving her support to the Home Energy Assistance Tax Relief Act, which would provide a $500 tax rebate to households that pay more than $1,500 in heating costs this winter.

There are already provisions in place to help low-income families pay their bills. The New York Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) provides assistance for households with "vulnerable individuals," aged below 6 or above 60, that make less than $1,963 per month ($450 is added to the limit for the household's occupants). Applications for the program are accepted at the start of October for furnace repairs, and November for emergency benefits.

Gov. David Paterson has vowed to work with state agencies to come up with more money to help New Yorkers with gas bills this coming winter, but he has not announced any solidified plans as of press time. Paterson is currently in the midst of a concerted effort to trim the state budget.

There are state incentives already in place for low-income families who wish to build or upgrade to an Energy-Star level home. For a one-income household in Albany County, for example, anyone making under $39,550 a year would be eligible for a $500 cash incentive to help with the upgrade.

For information on the HEAP program or Energy-Star incentives, go to www.getenergysmart.org.""

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