Customers that need help paying their Columbia Gas bills in Virginia can explore several different government programs, payment plans, and non-profit funded resources. While each agency and program has limited funding and a formal application process in place, they will each do what they can to help the less fortunate. Columbia Gas is also committed to working with customers in Virginia.
HeatShare is funded by Columbia Gas of Virginia contributions and also donations from local businesses as well as caring customers. It is a special heating bill assistance program that is administered by Salvation Army centers across the region and is a program of last resort. Any financial aid paid out will be for low-income customers (such as seniors, the disabled or families with children) who have exhausted all other available government as well as private energy assistance programs. To find out if you qualify, you can stop by or call the Salvation Army. Or call the Columbia Gas Universal Services department at 1-800-537-7431 for more information on HeatShare.
The main federal program that also supports Virginia is the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). It can help pay a portion of a qualified low-income customers’ natural gas bills during the cold winter or hot summer months. It is also used to help keep the heat on. The application period starts in the fall, and it normally begins on the second Tuesday in October and runs until November.
A summertime component may be offered as well as funding allows, and the grants can help pay air conditioning bills of Columbia Gas customers. Or LIHEAP can provide a free fan or air conditioner in Virginia. All applications are processed as soon as possible, with a crisis component that can expedite the grants. The Virginia Department of Social Services administers the LIHEAP program. To learn more, apply, or if you think you are eligible, visit or call your local Department of Social Services office or a local community action agency.
Another service is the Virginia Fuel Assistance Program, which is a component of LIHEAP. Assistance is paid out based on the customers need and the program focuses primarily on income level as well as household size. A few thousand Columbia Gas of Virginia customers may benefit from this energy bill assistance program every year. It will provide them with a grant for their bills, and is often combined with the energy conservation measures noted below. More on Virginia LIHEAP fuel assistance and weatherization.
Payment plans or other services may be provided directly by the company in order to help people avoid having their gas service disconnected. As some people know, re-establishing your gas service after being shut off for non-payment is very expensive for both the customer as well as Columbia Gas. Please don't let your unpaid gas bills lead to a service interruption. So the company will try to work with Virginia customers in order to bring their account current and up-to-date. Before you even receive a termination notice, call 1-800-543-8911 to speak to a representative.
Budget Payment Plan is a free service open to customers of all income levels. The program was created and designed to help reduce the impact of excessive summer air conditioning and/or winter heating bills by spreading your heating and cooling costs more evenly over a longer timeframe, which is really the entire year.
There are many benefits and reasons to sign up for a budget payment plan. It will allow you to know how much you can expect to pay each month, lessen the impact of winter heating and summer AC bills, and allow people to have more money available over the winter holidays. It allows Columbia Gas customers to plan their expenses and helps with budgeting as they will not be faced with expensive Columbia Gas bills during cold spells.
The company will review your past history of natural gas usage at your address, the current rates for service and delivery, and they will factor in the current and estimated cost of natural gas when they set your monthly billing rate. Note that any additional charges or fees for security deposits or any assistance from programs such as the Columbia Gas Virginia HeatShare fuel fund are not included in the budgeting calculation. Your budgeted amount will be reviewed periodically and it might be adjusted from time to time.
Households can save energy from the weatherization service in Virginia. Very low income Columbia Gas customers, as well as those living in poverty, can apply for this free service. Using federal grants, it may allow some families to save as much as $500 per year on their bills as a result of the home improvements/repairs that will be made to their home. It is an option for both tenants and homeowners.
Additional non-profit resources in Virginia include the Virginia Department of Social Services website, the state’s Energy Assistance Hotline (1-800-272-2714) as well as the United Way and their databases on local other community services. Or Call Columbia Gas at 1-800-543-8911.
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