Heating bill assistance is offered in Illinois for low income customers, the unemployed, and those who need help. Many households in the state are faced with spikes in their bills during the cold winter months, and resources can help people prevent a disconnection, eliminate a balance, pay their bills on time, and also save energy.
Many natural gas and energy providers, including Ameren, offer non-profit or charity type programs to customers in their service territories. Some of the primary programs are Good Samaritan Initiative, Warm Neighbors Cool Friends, and similar. The funds for these often come from donations and contributions from the community, so please do contribute if you can afford to.
Good Samaritan Initiative is supported by Ameren and other companies in Illinois. Qualified households can get their heat turned back on if it was shut off. They normally will need to pay either $250 or 20% of the balance due. The Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services runs the program locally across the state, and call a local community action agency or social service center.
Cash grants for paying heating and natural gas bills are offered to low income customers from LIHEAP. Thousands of families who receive their heat from Nicor Gas or other providers benefit from this government program. Money is offered for paying your winter energy expenses. If your power was already turned off, then LIHEAP also provides one-time only reconnection assistance. Also, if your furnace or heating source breaks down during the winter, from time to time the program may be able to pay for repairs to it, or even provide a qualified homeowner a brand new furnace. Call a non-profit community action agency at 800-252-8643.
Illinois Department on Aging focuses on ensuring seniors and their caregivers are safe and warm during the winter. Offices are located across the state, and even in more midsize cities such as Aurora. They can advise people on where to take shelter during the cold spells, and also help seniors apply for financial assistance. Call 800-252-8966.
The state of Illinois does its best to ensure people have shelter and a safe place to live during the winter, so the Homeless Prevention program can help there. It offers support services, counseling, and heating bill assistance to eligible families and individuals. Call 877-411-9276.
Share the Warmth is another key charity type program for Peoples Gas and ComEd customers. It offers grants for paying heating bills to very low income, seniors, and fixed-income residents. Call your utility company for details.
Save money on your heating bills from Home Weatherization Assistance. This federal government program will help keep drafts out of your home by installing things like insulation or additional caulking. Or resources may help seal windows. Homeowners can save potentially hundreds of dollars per year on their annual heating bills. (877) 411-9276.
The state of Illinois mandates that all energy companies offer the Percentage of Income Payment Plan (PIPP). This is offered by all utilities including Exelon as well as Ameren and others. The amount you pay for your bills will be set by your income. If you abide by its terms, you will receive a monthly benefit/credit towards paying off any older heating and natural gas bills and eventually they may be eliminated. This program encourages on time payments, it will ensure people budget appropriately, and it should limit if not reduce any disconnections of your service, especially when it is needed most in the winter. While terms can very, in general a client will pay at most 6% of their income towards their bills.
An Energy Assistance Foundation resource is known as Warm Neighbors Cool Friends. This is even offered for more moderate income families in the state, and is targeted at those individuals who generally do not qualify for federal government or state heating bill assistance. Many beneficiaries are also senior citizens.
Funding does vary, but clients can receive up to $700 for paying their bills. Applicants also need to make some payments, as the foundation will not pay everything you owe. A network of social service agencies and non-profit community organizations in Joliet and other cities determine eligibility for Warm Neighbors. Or feel free to call -888-690-5700 for intake.
Warm Neighbors Cool Friends also offers some conservation and weatherization programs. This includes free basic energy-efficiency measures, such as adding additional insulation, caulking, air sealing and weather-stripping. This is usually offered for people who do not qualify for federal government or state of Illinois assistance.
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