How to Get Help With Your Energy Bill
States offer several assistance programs for low-income families in order to reduce household energy usage and costs. By helping reduce energy usage, overall emissions in the country are also reduced. As a result, energy-saving programs help reduce air pollution which improves air quality and public health. By offering new energy assistance programs, the state also creates new job opportunities. States use a program that analyzes specific parameters, including environmental hazard criteria, public health, socioeconomic, and geographic location to identify communities affected by pollution that would benefit from energy assistance programs. The following programs strive to achieve energy efficiency and reduce utility expenses.
About the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)
The Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) helps low-income families manage immediate heating and cooling needs in the household. This is a one-time financial assistance program for an individual household’s utility bill. The LIHEAP program helps households who have received a disconnection notice from the utility company stating a cut off deadline of 24-48 hours. If energy efficiency upgrades will lower a household’s utility bills, the LIHEAP may be able to help. Solar energy is a renewable and sustainable power source. It requires little to no maintenance and never runs out. Unfortunately, most low-income households cannot afford to install this new energy system. This program uses federal funding and state rebates to help provide low-income residents with solar energy at no cost to the household. Solar energy drastically reduces the cost of utilities, which is a major help to families and the community overall. The LIHEAP offers budget counseling and education training on basic energy efficiency practices that can help reduce household energy costs overall.
About the Weatherization Program
The LIHEAP weatherization program helps provide energy efficiency upgrades for free in order to reduce energy costs for low-income households. Weatherization helps to keep a household safe and healthy. For example, repairs can improve indoor air quality, which helps to address or prevent respiratory problems. Additionally, electrical repairs can reduce the likelihood of a fire in the home.
Decreased power plant emissions and air pollution are major goals of the weatherization program. Weatherization aims to seal holes and cracks that oftentimes appear on doors, pipes and windows, which cause cool drafts coming into the home even when doors and windows are closed. The program works to insulate homes to the proper level so that households do not need to keep the heater running all day to keep from the harsh winter. Sometimes weatherization programs will fix and replace windows in the home. Weatherization also checks heating and air conditioning systems to ensure proper function. The program can install solar water heaters and solar panels into households. There are eligibility requirements that need to be met in order to participate in the weatherization program. Eligibility is based on income, household size and energy use. Local agencies can provide further details on weatherization eligibility and how to receive assistance from the program. Weatherization is funded by state and federal money which allows the assistance to be provided at no cost to the qualifying household.
About the Energy Crisis Intervention Program (ECIP)
Low-income households facing an energy related emergency should immediately seek assistance from the Energy Crisis Intervention Program. A combustible appliance would be considered a life-threatening emergency in which the ECIP would immediately step in to help. This program also offers assistance to households who have received a termination of utility services to happen within 24 to 48 hours. During a natural disaster, damage can result in an energy-related emergency for which the ECIP can immediately assist.
About the Community Services Block Grant (CSBG)
The Community Services Block Grant (CSBG) is a federally funded program that provides an array of services to assist individuals and low-income households to achieve self-sufficiency through gaining knowledge, skills and motivation. The ultimate goal of this program is to reduce poverty and develop low-income communities. Services include nutritional, health, education and employment services. While CSBG services may vary depending on one’s state or territory, some forms of assistance may include:
- Help finding employment.
- Emergency cash assistance.
- Help with budgeting and managing household expenses.
To find CSBG assistance, you may visit the website of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Office of Community Services, Division of Community Assistance. Once there, you will find the contact information for your region.
The CSBG has six major goals they wish to achieve through the federally funded grant. A goal is to improve the living conditions and self-sufficiency of low-income families. The CSBG looks to increase partnerships in the community between local providers and supporters. Low-income individuals and families will own a stake in the local community and will strengthen families and achieve individual potential. The CSBG looks to increase the capacity at which local agencies achieve results in the community.