Lower income Alabama families can get help with paying utility bills from the LIHEAP - Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program. Both cooling and heating bills can be paid, with the objective of increasing an individuals energy self-sufficiency and also reducing their vulnerability that could result from energy needs or a crisis. It is often combined with free weatherization services, and the mission of this Alabama and federal government program is to permanently reduce energy costs for low-income households over the long term.
Both of the grant programs are paid for by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Applications are accepted and processed at local community action and nonprofit agencies in Alabama. A location in your county will oversee both the LIHEAP and weatherization programs in your town or city.
Most of the aid from the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) is for low-income households that have a child, senior, or disabled member in the home A focus is on those with the lowest incomes and the highest home energy costs or needs in relation to their income, taking into account family size. One of the objectives is to help people keep their power and air conditioning on during the hot Alabama summer months, or during a cold stretch during the winter. Both regular assistance is offered, as well as crisis grants.
The Alabama Charitable Trust Programs also works closely with LIHEAP to provide cooling, air conditioning, and heating bill assistance. For the crisis component, that requires someone be faced with a disconnection or that at least one household member have a documented health problem or medical condition All community action agencies are required to offer both regular LIHEAP and Crisis assistance.
A formal application process is in place, funding is limited, and help is offered on a first come, served basis. So apply early. Applicants will need a copy of the seasonal utility bill (power, cooling, electricity, gas, propane, etc.). Proof of income is required from all household members. The application for LIHEAP, along with all necessary verifications and documentation, needs to be submitted through the designated non-profit agency in your Alabama county. Any grants or funds from LIHEAP is just one-time assistance that is intended to help defray heating and cooling bills. Any cash does not go directly to the household or the applicant but it goes to your utility company or energy provider, and the customer may see a credit on their account.
The Alabama Weatherization Assistance Program is another key government assistance program for low income families. Community action agencies across the state also oversee this energy conservation program, and it is paid for by federal government funds.
The primary mission is to help people save money. This is done by helping people reduce energy costs, and it is offered for low-income households, particularly families with children, the elderly, and people with disabilities. The program will improve the energy efficiency of an applicants primary residence, whether that is a traditional home, condo, or even a mobile home. It will also ensure the applicants health and safety.
Some of the improvements offered by the free Alabama weatherization assistance program can include performing HVAC system tune-ups and repairs, mitigating outside air infiltration into the conditioned space of the home, installing attic, wall and floor insulation, sealing duct work, work on doors, and replacing incandescent light bulbs with highly efficient compact fluorescent light bulbs and also repairing leaky and/or faulty windows. A number of health and safety checks are also performed by contractors on the home, and all of this is offered at no cost.
The state does receive funding from the United States Department of Energy's (DOE), however applications are also processed by community action agencies, and the non-profits will usually sign people up for LIHEAP and weatherization at the same time. A key benefit is it can reduce energy costs, cooling bills and alleviate high energy burden for low-income families, which will less their need for future financial assistance.
Call your local community action agency, or call (334) 242-4909 to reach the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs, which is another resource.
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