If you are in need of assistance to pay your electric, utility, water or heating bills, there are places you can turn. Emergency financial help is provided to pay electric bills by various different federal organizations. Learn how to reduce your energy bills using the below assistance programs:
Weatherization Assistance Program
The U.S. Department of Energy has a program that reduces energy costs for low-income households. The program assists low-income families by increasing the energy efficiency of their homes thus, reducing their heating and cooling costs. The program also addresses health and safety issues in the home through these measures. In reducing energy consumption, this program provides low-income families with significant savings.
The process of making a home more energy efficient begins with an initial “energy audit”. Service providers identify areas of improvement and repair that will help increase energy efficiency. This may include improvements such as sealing cracks to reduce air infiltration, installing efficient lighting and refrigeration or replacing doors and windows. Service providers will also identify potential health and safety hazards such as ventilation problems, lead paint or mold growth. On average, individuals can cut their energy costs by 20%. Each year, this service improves the lives of approximately 35,000 families using DOE funds.
- In the U.S., approximately 20-30 million families are eligible for these services. Household income level is the primary factor affecting eligibility. Each state has different requirements and criteria. There are two factors that make individuals automatically eligible. This applies to individuals that receive Supplemental Security Income or Aid to Families with Dependent Children. Then there are factors that states give preference to and those are individuals over 60 years old, families with one or more members with a disability, and families with children. These services are available to both homeowners and renters.
Steps To Receive Weatherization Services
- Contact – In order to apply, individuals must contact the State Administrators of the Weatherization Assistance Program in their area.
- Apply – Applications are quick to fill out and include questions about household and number of people living in the home. The application requires proof of income for the last year and can be given to the local state weatherization agency.
- Review – The weatherization agency reviews each application and determines an individual’s eligibility. Priority is given to individuals and families who are in most need. Those who are approved are usually put on a waiting list. Renters must receive approval from their landlord before any services are performed.
Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)
Funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, another program that helps low-income families with their energy bills is LIHEAP. The main goal of this program is to provide assistance to low-income families to help pay utility bills and meet their immediate home energy needs. The program may also help those in need by providing home cooling weatherization, and/or energy-related low-cost home repairs or replacements.
How To Receive Assistance
- Eligibility varies from state to state but is primarily based on income. Again, those in most need receive priority in receiving assistance. Similar to WAP, in order to apply for LIHEAP, it is necessary to apply through local state organizations. Many states have applications that can be completed online. Individuals can also contact the National Energy Assistance Referral (NEAR) line which provides information on where to apply. NEAR can be contacted at toll-free number 1-866-674-6327 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.