Receive help managing and paying your utility bills in California from the LIHEAP program and weatherization services. The low income energy assistance program provides families with cash grants to pay their heating and cooling bills. On the other hand, weatherization can help families in California control their energy costs and save money. This will in effect free up their income for other basic needs and key expenditures.
Both of these assistance programs are federally funded, however they are administered at the state level by the California Department of Community Services and Development. The agency works with community action agencies and social service centers across the state. The receipt of any financial assistance from LIHEAP or energy conservation from weatherization depends upon the availability of government funds.
Due to limited funding, resources are targeted at lower income households that have elderly and/or disabled persons in the home, or that have children under around six years of age. The reason energy assistance is targeted at them is that seniors, young children and disabled people are especially at risk for life threatening illness or even death if their home is too hot in the summer or too cold in the winter.
One-time financial assistance and cash grants are paid out as part of LIHEAP in order to help pay utility bills. There is also an Energy Crisis Intervention Program, or ECIP, that provides emergency assistance for people that are in a dire situation. Emergency funds can be paid out if you have received a 24- to 48-hour service termination or disconnect notice. An emergency can also be considered for a household facing an energy-related crisis or life-threatening emergency.
Most applicants will only qualify for the regular component of LIHEAP. Recipients will be provided a cash grant for paying their home heating or cooling bills, and the money is almost always paid directly to your energy company. Homeowners and renters can apply for eligibility, however there are a number of guidelines in place. Funds pledged to assist customers are distributed through local community-based non-profit organizations, assistance agencies and certain city and county government agencies.
While the conditions of the program can change from year to year, in general they include some or all of the following. Families need to provide proof of their hardship and income. Grants are only eligible for US citizens. Low income guidelines are in place as well, and that are loosely based on up to 200% of federal government poverty guidelines.
The exact amount of assistance will be based on total gross household income, the number of persons in the household, the cost of power and electricity within the county the applicant resides in, and total government funding availability. Your energy source may also be a consideration, such as whether you use natural gas, propane, kerosene, or regular electricity. LIHEAP provides one payment per program year, and the average will be around $250 in a typical year. However this depends on those factors previously mentioned.
All funding is offered on a first come, first served basis. However, as indicated, the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program will focus on senior citizens, the disabled, and families with young children in California first as they are most at risk. After that more “traditional” families may receive cash grants from LIHEAP. Dial 1-866-675-6623 for more information or applications.
The California Weatherization provides free energy upgrades to low-income household. All improvements made are with energy conservation in mind, and the goal is to help people lower their monthly utility bills. The extra insulation and other improvements can keep the heat in a home, or ensure it stays cool during the hot summer months. Another side benefit of weatherization is that it will also improve the health and safety of the household’s occupants. At the same time that someone enroll sin this program, the client will also be provided with energy budget counseling, education on the best conservation practices and they will also receive instruction on the proper use and maintenance of installed weatherization measures.
The program is often called WAP, and it will increase the energy efficiency of homes that are owned, rented or occupied by low-income persons. The upgrades made can cost the federal government as much as $6000. The state of California and the federal government pay for all costs, and the service is free to the client. The end result is it will reduce the homeowners total residential expenditures for expenses such as heating and cooling bills. On average recipients will experience a 25% reduction in their annual energy costs, with some homeowners noting up to a 35% reduction. The exact amount you save will depend on many factors, including how much repair your home needs, your local climate as well as your local utility rates.
While each home will be provided with improvements that are tailored for it, some of the more common types of weatherization updates include fixing or replacing windows, sealing the holes and cracks around windows, doors and pipes, installing an insulated blanket around your water heater, making sure your air conditioning and heating systems are working properly, installing low-flow showerheads, and ensuring proper levels of insulation. This program can also pay for and provide free or reduced-cost Compact Florescent Lights (CFL) bulbs, gas water heaters, and even freezer or refrigerator replacement.
The program is financed by the United States Department of Energy (DOE) as well as additional funds from the Low Income Home Energy Program. The reason that it is partnered with LIHEAP is that while the government may pay cash for to help pay a California families utility bills, but the longer term solution is the weatherization service. As if people use energy more wisely and save it, this should help eliminate their need for future financial assistance or grants. Emphasis is placed on serving families with at risk members of their household, such as families with young children or disabled members as well as senior citizens.
Both the weatherization and Low Income Home Energy Program are administered at the state level by the California Department of Community Services and Development. Call 1-866-675-6623.
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