Do you remember your parents telling you as a child to turn off the lights? You may be able to see the bigger picture as an adult. You will be paying recurring bills for energy, which can sometimes not be cheap. You might notice spikes in your bills during the colder months, when you use heating to keep warm, and during the hotter months when more air conditioning is needed.
If you are eligible and need assistance paying your energy bills, you may be able to access low-income home energy assistance programs.
What are the low-income home energy assistance programs for homeowners?
Low income energy assistance program, or LIHEAP, assists families in paying their energy bills. This federally funded program provides assistance to approximately 6.7 million households across the United States. The program is not only available to help with your energy bills but also can assist you with weatherization, energy-related repairs, and energy crises. This program is vital because it can help to reduce the risk of heat and cooling failures at your home.
What kinds of assistance can LIHEAP offer?
There are many situations where you may need assistance with your energy bills. Here are some areas that LIHEAP can help you:
Assistance with your energy bill. LIHEAP can help you pay your energy bills for electricity and natural gas as well as propane, fuel oil, and wood.
Weatherization. This helps you save money on your energy bills by making your home more efficient.
Energy-related repairs. LIHEAP funds are available to help you fix your cooling or heating equipment. LIHEAP funds could also be used to fix leaky doors, windows, or insulation.
Assistance in times of crisis Priority is given to those who don’t have heating and cooling, or are at high risk.
Assistance for disaster victims. LIHEAP support can be accessed by victims of natural disasters during and after an event.
Energy education. Information and strategies are provided to help individuals manage their energy consumption and reduce their energy bills.
LIHEAP doesn’t usually cover sewage and water bills. You should also know that each state offers different types of utility assistance so it is worth researching what you have.
These are some tips to get free money from government
How can I claim low-income energy assistance
Although the U.S. government funds LIHEAP each state has responsibility for providing assistance to families. There are different ways to apply for assistance and what types of assistance you will receive. You fill out an application, and the local LIHEAP administrator will determine if you are eligible. If you’re eligible, you can expect assistance with your bills, provided that the local LIHEAP has sufficient funding. The National Low Income Housing Coalition states that only 20% of households are eligible for assistance.
You can use the LIHEAP office searching tool to locate your local office. You will usually need to apply through an agency in your county. You can find the LIHEAP website for your county and read about the application process.
You should note that not all states allow you to submit the LIHEAP application online. In these cases, you will need to visit or call your local office.
You can also call the energy assistance hotline to speak with someone. You can reach representatives by email or phone weekdays between 9 a.m. and 7 p.m. Eastern Standard Time.
Requirements to LIHEAP
Each state has its own requirements for utility assistance for low-income families. The requirements for low income utility assistance programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance program, Temporary Aid for Needy Families, and Supplemental Security Income may differ in each state.
The household income limits are usually set by each state. However, the government does require that states follow guidelines when setting these limits.
For households to qualify, income must not exceed 150% of FPG or 60% of state median income levels. States are not allowed to set income eligibility levels lower than 110% of FPG. What does this mean in plain numbers?
To be eligible, a household of two must have a household income of less than $27,465 per year before taxes.
A household of two people in New York can have a maximum monthly gross income of $3730 to qualify for assistance.
To qualify for LIHEAP, a Virginia household of two must have an annual income of less than $23,803 (before taxes)
You may be eligible for LIHEAP if you are already enrolled in programs such as SNAP, SSI, or TANF.
It all depends on how often you receive LIHEAP assistance. In Florida, for example, you can get help up to three times per year. In Pennsylvania, however, you only receive one cash benefit per heating season. You are eligible for LIHEAP if you pay rent. However, people who live in subsidized housing or public housing might not be eligible, depending on their situation.
When applying for LIHEAP assistance, you may need to provide documentation. These documents could include proof of U.S. residence, utility bills from recent months, and income proof.
You can appeal if you are denied for the program. You can also apply for energy assistance through tribal programs if you are a member of an Indian tribe.
If you’re not eligible for utility assistance, but still require help, there are many other options.
Emergency Rental Assistance Program
The Emergency Rental Assistance Program is another program that can assist you if your energy bills are not paying. The Emergency Rental Assistance Program not only helps with rent costs but also allows you to use the aid for other bills. This program is available to both renters and landlords in many cases. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau website provides a list of states that offer assistance as well as a link to get started. You can also find out if the program accepts applications, or if you will have to waitlisted.
Nonprofits may have funds available to help families with their utility bills. The Salvation Army’s Emergency Services Division offers assistance. Catholic Charities USA provides assistance with utilities and basic needs for individuals and families who require support. Find the nearest agency and inquire about what assistance they have.
Negotiating With Your Utility Company
If you are unable to find help, get creative and contact your utility company. Tell your utility company that you are experiencing financial hardships. They may have programs or payment options that can help. You can also shop around to find cheaper providers.