Many states provide financial assistance to low income families during the hot and humid summer. A focus is on providing for people who are most at risk, and this would include seniors, families with young children, and the disabled. Programs can help pay cooling and air conditioning bills or some states will oversee services that provide free fans or air conditioners.
Financial resources from the government and non-profits will always vary and are limited, especially when it comes to pay cooling bills or providing help during the summer. There is typically less funding available from programs such as LIHEAP. Many non-profits, charities, and churches also tend to have limited assistance available, and/or there may be more restrictions or limitations in place as to who can receive help.
If you don’t qualify for any assistance for paying your bills, or if funding is no longer available, then there are some other options. For example, many state and major cities open cooling centers. These are available to anyone who needs to get out of heat or humidity, and the centers will often distribute free water, serve a meal, or hold recreational activities. Another option is for senior citizens and the elderly to stop by a local Agency on Aging office or a senior center. Most towns have these locations open to people over the age of 60 or so. They will be air conditioned, may distribute free box fans, and are yet another place for people to go to get out of the heat or humidity.
If your state is not listed below, or if you need more information, find additional details on the LIHEAP program. Hundreds of thousands of lower income families and seniors benefit from this program every year.
Alabama has a financial assistance program that opens for enrollment in June. Priority is for disabled, senior citizens, and families with young children. The state also has a crisis cooling program for the sick; however medical requirements are generally waived for the elderly. Call 800-392-8098 for information.
Arizona accepts applications at local community action agencies. The income guidelines in place are usually set at 150% of federal government poverty guidelines, with focus for people with medical conditions or senior citizens. Some exceptions can be made, and families can apply year round for assistance for paying their electric cooling bills. 1-800-582-5706
Arkansas will normally process applications for summer or crisis LIHEAP from July 1 to September 30. Low income families and the working poor are primary beneficiaries. In past years up to $700 was paid out, and you will need to apply at a community action agency. In addition, free air conditioners or box fans may be available to families with a member who has a serious or life threatening medical condition. Telephone number is 1-800-482-8988.
California provides grants and money for cooling, utility, and air conditioning bills as part of LIHEAP. Residents can apply anytime during the course of the year, as there is really no separate winter or summer program. Aid is usually offered for people who are within 75% of state’s median income levels. Each local non-profit LIHEAP provider or social service office develops plan and approach to helping the less fortunate. Many towns and agencies focus on seniors, or people who are low income and pay a majority of their income towards their utilities. Many cities in California, including Los Angeles and San Diego, also open cooling centers during hot periods. 1-866-675-6623
Delaware – Individuals with a doctor’s note may qualify for a window air conditioner. The state may also provide emergency utility or electric bill assistance during the summer. Apply at a nearby state service center. Call 1-800-464-4357.
District of Columbia can help people with a disconnect notice. This is done from the crisis LIHEAP/benefit program. For regular bills, more ongoing assistance may be offered as well. Eligibility is normally set at 60% of the region’s median income. 202-673-6750
Florida offers cooling bill assistance from April to September. All funding is first come – served, and applications are normally accepted year round. However that can vary based on the town or city in question. Income conditions are normally set at 150% of federal government poverty level, with a focus on seniors and the elderly in Florida. Vouchers may be distributed for free fans or air conditioners. Also state and federal government crisis funds and grants may be available for replacement or repairs to cooling equipment or a new air conditioner. Or the money can be used to restore power. Another option for older adults is Florida is the Emergency Home Energy Assistance for the Elderly Program (EHEAP). Dial 850-717-8450 for information on all these programs.
Georgia will normally process applications and requests for help starting in August, and the program runs until funds are exhausted. Call your local community action agency, and normally people may receive a few hundred dollars if they qualify. Dial 1-800-869-1150 for information or to apply.
Hawaii can help people with a disconnection notice. A credit may also be provided on your utility bill whether you are single or have a family. Home visits can be undertaken in order to help senior citizens and disabled apply. 1-808-586-5740
Illinois has a small window for applying for cooling bill assistance, and funding is usually offered as part of LIHEAP. Any aid offered is generally targeted to households with children 36 months or younger, elderly 60 years and older or members with a medical condition that is proven by a doctor’s note. Some cities, such as Chicago, may have cooling centers open as well. Call your local community action agency or the Keep Cool Illinois number at 877-411-9276.
Indiana can also provide free fans and/or air conditioners to people with a medical condition. Usually if you receive financial help during the winter, you will more than likely receive emergency electric bill assistance during the summer as well. The application period starts in June, and usually up to $50 can be paid out. A focus is on income qualified households with at least one disabled or senior member, or maybe a family with a child under 6 years of age. Up to $275 can be paid out for an air conditioner. Dial 1-800-872-0371 for details on this.
Kansas doesn’t offer a dedicated cooling program, but your LIEAP cash benefit can be split and a portion used to pay both cooling and/or winter heating bills. So you can pay your electric company as well with Kansas LIEAP funds. 1-800-432-004
Kentucky residents can apply for help at local community action agencies or social service offices. The Kentucky summer cooling bill program provides eligible households with a one-time payment or cash grant to the client’s electric or gas provider during the hot and humid summer months. In addition, if you have a medical condition, then an air conditioner may be provided. However, the AC unit is focused on those families who have a member of their home who has a health condition, someone who is elderly, or a child who is under 6 years of age. 1-800-432-0043
Louisiana gives priority to households with elderly, disabled, or young children and whose income is at 60% or less of the state’s median income. Some applications are done over the phone, and as funding allows, up to $500 may be paid out. Occasionally the Summer Emergency Program runs in Louisiana, and this is true during a truly hot stretch of weather. When this runs fans may be provided as part of LIHEAP for low income eligible households with a young child, senior, or disabled member. 888-454-2001
Mississippi enrollment period starts in May for senior citizens. The grant amount paid out to eligible households depends on the applicant's income and utility bill amount, the degree of participation on the established case plan, and it depends on the family attending case management. Other aid includes cooling system repairs, fans, and/or air conditioners. Telephone number is 1-800-948-4060.
Missouri can help people who have a disconnect notice, or if their electricity was already turn off. Up to $300 can be paid out. Or government funds can be used towards the purchase of an air conditioner or a box fan if you have a medical condition and an older family member. 1-855-373-4636.
Nebraska cooling bill assistance programs run from June 1 through August 31, however there is a supplemental crisis program for any utility bills before or after those program dates. A medical need needs to be documented by the individual or client. Also, households in Nebraska that have a member age 70 or older may receive a free air conditioner at most once every five years. Call 1-800-430-3244.
Nevada can help people who are senior, disabled or SSI or TANF recipients, and/or whose income is lower than 150% of federal poverty levels. For any government aid offered, including LIHEAP, clients can decide to pay both their heating and cooling bills with those funds and beneficiaries can decide their own split and use of the grants. In Las Vegas dial 702-486-1404, or in Reno and the northern part of Nevada call 775-684-0730.
New Jersey may offer assistance to senior citizens and the elderly that have proof of health endangerment, and it needs to be signed by a doctor. You can also apply for heating and cooling bill assistance at the same time in New Jersey. Call 1-800-510-3102 for information.
New Mexico has a onetime year grant for any type of energy bill. Beneficiaries can decide to use the money to pay their heating or cooling bills, and it is their choice. Applicants need to be within 150% of federal government poverty guidelines. A crisis program is offered for households with a shutoff notice and have had made payments on their utilities in the recent past. 1-800-283-4465
North Carolina offers cooling and air conditioning benefits are part of year-round crisis programs, and generally up to $600 can be paid out, as funding allows. Phone 1-800-662-7030.
Ohio opens up a program in July. It is for state residents whose income is within 200% of poverty levels. Or aid may be provided to senior citizens or the sick and ill. Apply at a community action agency. Other assistance may be offered for persons 59 years of age or younger who have a doctor's notice stating that a medical need or condition exists. It must clearly state that hot weather could cause their condition to worsen, and that the person needs cooling assistance. In these cases Ohio may offer a one-time payment toward an electric bill. For a free AC unit, a medical notice is required from a doctor stating that an air conditioner will benefit a household member's health condition. Dial 1-800-282-0880 for details on these services.
Oklahoma disburses funds until they run out, and the program starts in July for low income families. Call 1-866-411-1877.
Oregon – Call your local community action agency, non-profit or a human service agency. Funds are offered during the summer, and crisis utility bill assistance is offered for paying cooling bills, buying fans, or air conditioning equipment. Telephone 1-800-453-5511.
South Carolina summer assistance runs from May 1 - September 30. Income levels are set at 150% of federal poverty levels, with a focus on seniors and the disabled in the state. A phone application system is in place too. The LIHEAP crisis cooling component will pay for cooling and air conditioning systems, and primarily the repair or replacement of them. This really depends on government funding as well. Air conditioners and/or fans may be installed in households with vulnerable members. 803-734-0662
Tennessee is open for low to mode moderate income families, and applications are accepted in May and June. A medical statement from your doctor is required, unless you have an elderly member, disabled or infant less than 12 months old. If you have not receive help in the recent past, then you may qualify for fans or air conditioners, or the equivalent cash value of them. Call 615-313-4766.
Texas runs a program from March to November, and is generally for families whose income is 200% of federal government poverty levels. Priority is for people with high energy costs in relation to their income, homes with an elderly member, children under the age of six, or disability. Also is focus is for those people who are waiting for weatherization. Assistance is really targeted to households unable to achieve full energy self-sufficiency and who are behind on their bills and have no other resources available. The Texas CEAP program also has a crisis component, and grants can even be paid out for the replacement or repair of cooling systems. Call 1-877-399-8939.
Utah provides summer cooling bill assistance in the southern part of the state, and the program runs year round. It is a component of the HEAT program. Additional monies may be paid for those with a vulnerable member, such as a young child or senior. 1-877-488-3233
Virginia’s summer program usually runs from June to August. The applying household must have one member 60 years or over, disabled or a child under 6, and there is an early application period for those who qualify. Call your local area agency on aging office, community action agency, or social service office. In the past, some cash assistance has been provided to repair, replace, or to purchase an air conditioner, pay a utility security deposit, or funds to pay your electricity bill during the hot and humid summer. Dial 1-800-230-6977 for details.
Wisconsin help is only offered to people who have a medical need, and if the state declares a heat emergency. When this occurs, or if you are qualified, apply at a county welfare office, community action agencies or a non-profit charitable organization such as the Salvation Army. Other services offered in Wisconsin can include a fan, money for a room air conditioner repair/purchase, or counseling. 1-866-432-8947
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