Looking for help with your utility costs? Did you know there’s funding to help low-income families with their home energy bills, emergencies and weatherproofing services? Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) is a federal program that provides grants to state agencies for low-income households, improving energy efficiency and infrastructure.
In 2019 for example, the program helped over 223,000 households in California pay their energy bills. This program varies by state. At least 16—Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, New Jersey, Ohio, Oregon, Vermont, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin—have made laws to increase funds for these programs beyond what’s provided from the federal government.
Each state has different rules about when you can apply, how you apply, and the criteria you have to meet in order to get help. Use this eligibility checker on Benefits.gov. If you need help applying, call: 1-866-674-6327. Here’s what you need to know:
- Who’s eligible for LIHEAP?
You may be eligible if you:
- Have a total household income under 200% of the Federal Poverty Income Guidelines (FPL). For example, for a family of 3, 200% of FPL is $43,920.
- Are responsible for paying your home heating or cooling bills
- Are a resident of the state in which you apply
- Are a U.S. Citizen, qualified alien or permanent resident
The highest benefits go to households with the highest energy needs, which considers income and family size. The amount of help you get depends on where you live, your income, energy costs, family size and possibly more. Because of the way funds are distributed, some states receive more LIHEAP funds than others and can pay higher benefits.
- How do I apply?
Some states let you apply online, while others allow you to print and mail an application.
Most local LIHEAP agencies require an appointment. Find your local agency here.
– New York
- How do I receive assistance?
In most cases, if you are approved the benefit is paid directly to the household energy supplier. Check with your local LIHEAP office to find out if you qualify. States often run out of LIHEAP funds before they can help everyone who’s eligible. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released $3.3 billion in funding for the program for FY 2020, and the program got an additional $900 million through the CARES Act.
- Will LIHEAP pay my entire utility bill?
No, it’s unlikely that you’ll receive enough benefits to cover your entire heating or cooling bill, even for one month. In many places, you can get help only with your main heating source. For example, Colorado’s LEAP program only accepts applications between November and April to help with winter energy costs.
- Are there other programs I can apply for?
Yes. The Weatherization Assistance Program provides funding for weatherproofing services and repairs that protect the inside and outside of homes from rain, snow, and wind, like installing insulation and fixing leaky doors or windows. The program prioritizes people over 60, families with one or more members with a disability and families with children. To learn how to apply, click here.