To those just getting by and struggling to pay bills, the winter and summer months can be ruthless on your budget. A brutal winter could lead to an unexpected expense or a rise in rates–not to mention a dangerous situation. Fortunately, there are several programs that offer utility bill assistance. Here are five options for you to consider:
1. Churches and Charities
When you are out of options, you should always consider reaching out to local non-profit agencies and charities that offer emergency financial assistance to help families keep their lights on.
There are also free government grants and programs that can help pay your bill or go towards conservation measures, such as the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP).
2. The Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)
LIHEAP offers funds and financial assistance during the winter or summer months to individuals who are out of other options. You are considered to be in crisis situations when you may be about to have your heating service disconnected or you might run out of heating fuel in the middle of winter, facing extreme summer temperatures, or other issues. While the program does not offer long-term assistance, the goal is to help families in need while they apply for longer term help or find a solution their situation.
3. Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP)
WAP helps families reduce utility bills by making their homes more energy efficient. Using the most advanced technologies and testing procedures available, they use funds to improve the energy performance of homes that belong to families in need.
There are 20 to 30 million Americans currently eligible for these weatherization services across the country. Because all services are handled by the states, each state has different criteria for qualification. All of the services are completed by local weatherization agencies.
4. Heating Repair Replacement Program (HARRP)
The HARRP, which is actually a component of LIHEAP and the Weatherization Assistance Program, is another federal government funded program that is typically offered by local community action agencies. There are similar programs with different names, but they all work about the same in most parts of the country. HARRP assistance can provide for the repair or replacement of heating units, appliances, furnaces, and other home upgrades.
5. Free and Discounted Home Heating Oil.
Lower income households and elderly households that are struggling can benefit from the Citizens Energy Oil Heat Program, which has delivered millions of gallons of home heating oil (discounted and free) to those in need Discover if you are eligible to receive free oil.
If you find yourself in a situation where you can’t pay your utility bills, you are not alone. There are programs that can help, many of which are guaranteed to be available in your area.