Low income families in Georgia can get help with utility bills from the Energy Assistance Program in Georgia. Cash grants and funds are available from EAP to pay heating, cooling, or natural gas bills, and the assistance is often combined with weatherization improvements.
While the federal government, as well as the state, pay for the assistance programs, applications are made at a local non-profit organization or Community Action Agency in your town or county. Priority is for residents who are at risk if they do not have power, such as the elderly or households with young children. The general public cannot apply for the Energy Assistance program until November or December. As funding allows applications may be accepted during the summer as well.
Cash grants from the EAP program can pay for cooling or heating bills. A crisis component can also assist when a family is out of fuel, electricity or faced with a shut off. The demand for help is high, and qualified applications are filled on a first come, first served basis. After the program starts, if funds have run out and are no longer available, then you can be placed on a waiting list for if/when additional money becomes available.
The LIHEAP type program typically begins in Georgia during the first work day of November. It is open for the most disadvantaged first, such as the homebound, elderly (age 65 & over), senior citizens, and those residents with life-threatening circumstances. The winter heating bill assistance program opens up for applications during the first work day in December. Apply early as funding will run out due to demand.
A number of eligibility requirements need to be met. In addition, the state of Georgia will issue a range of payments based on qualifications. Applicants need to be US citizens or legally admitted aliens. Low income levels need to be met, and the individual applying also needa to be responsible for paying the cost of energy for the primary home heating or cooling source.
The amount of cash assistance offered to non-subsidized renters and homeowners will vary, and families can receive on average $300 to $400 for their bills from EAP while funds are available. The exact amount paid out will depend on the applicant’s household size as well as projected total annual household income. The federal government funding levels are also a key factor when determining the size of payments, as that government funding can change from year to year.
The financial assistance provided by Georgia EAP will be in the form of locally issued checks to utility companies and home-energy suppliers on behalf of qualified households. While people who rent can get help, note that so called subsidized housing tenants whose monthly fuel or utilities cost is included in their rental payment to their landlord are can’t receive assistance. The reason being is that a decision was made saying that these households are considered to be the least vulnerable for home energy bill assistance.
Receive low-cost home energy conservation improvements from the Weatherization Program. The primary purpose of this free program is to make necessary energy-related updates and repairs to low income-eligible households.
You need to apply for the program first at your Community Action Agency, and additional details on that process are below. If you are found to be eligible and are enrolled, a contractor will visit your home and conduct an energy audit. Similar to EAP, the Georgia weatherization program gives priority to households with children under six years old, elderly, and the disabled. The program is partially funded by the Georgia Environmental Facilities Authority, federal government, Atlanta Gas Light, and Georgia Natural Gas and Power.
The professional will look at all heat loss and cooling problems in your home and decide what energy repairs and updates are needed from the free weatherization program. This can include fixing broken windowpanes, caulking, CFL bulbs, and weatherstripping. They will check your attic to determine if additional insulation is needed in the walls or ceilings. Just by installing some of these simple energy savings measures, your utility bills and household energy usage can be substantially reduced, and savings are passed on to the consumer.
Other free weatherization services provided to qualifying families and clients in Georgia include some significant improvements such as attic and wall insulation, weather-stripping and air sealing measures, testing of all gas appliances and furnaces to ensure safe operation, installation of smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
Some more major appliance replacements can occur as well, and are paid for by weatherization. These include energy conservation measures such as CFL bulbs, repair or replacement of gas appliances and/or refrigerator units with Energy Star energy efficient units.
To get more information on weatherization or EAP, call the local community action agency or state Human Services office for details on the energy assistance and weatherization program in your county. Most of the agencies or non-profits will make appointments over the phone and this will need to be done in order to apply for these government benefits. This can sometimes be done rather than requiring applicants to visit the agency initially, but each center has their own process.
So call the Georgia Department of Human Services at 1-877-423-4746, or contact your local non-profit community-action agency.
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