Grants from LIHEAP, or the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, in Illinois can help eligible low-income households pay their heating bills. Recipients can also sign up for free energy conservation updates and improvements from weatherization. The two government programs are administered by the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity. Assistance is offered to thousands of families across the state.
However, these are not the only options available to residents. Many people who receive assistance from LIHEAP also benefit from the Percentage of Income Payment Plan (PIPP), Reconnection Assistance, and Furnace Repairs or Replacements. Read more on your options and these resources below.
With many families in Illinois struggling due to the weak economy and escalating heating costs, the LIHEAP program can help people free up money for other basic living needs. The government grants can help force residents from having to decide between buying food, paying their rent, or paying for needed medications. The energy program will provide qualified applicants with a one-time cash benefit that is used for paying heating bills. The amount paid is based on four primary criteria, including the applicant壮 income, location in Illinois, household size, and fuel type. There are a few main types of aid provided.
PIPP, or Percentage of Income Payment Plan, is available for customers of Peoples Gas/North Shore Gas, Ameren Illinois, ComEd, and Nicor Gas. This plan will allow people to pay only a fixed percentage of their total household income towards their utilities. In addition, if they owe money on their account or have any arrearage they will also receive a reduction in their payments for every on-time payment they make by the bill due date.
Standard energy bill assistance - A one time grant payment will be applied to the heating bills of all income eligible households. You need to prove your need for help, and this is available to both renters and homeowners in Illinois.
Crisis assistance is offered when someone is out of fuel, heating oil, or their service is about to be shut off during the cold Illinois winter. Funds may be used to help pay bills during either weather or supply emergencies. The LIHEAP crisis assistance will be limited to activities to help solve the emergency, such as replacement of fuel tanks, prevent a disconnection, payment to utility companies, heating system or water heater repair or replacement, or for the replacement of fuel tanks. Any type of emergency financial assistance will not be made on behalf of a household unless the customer makes a good-faith effort to pay home energy bills on their own. Usually crisis grants will only be provided after a household has actually been disconnected from their service.
Illinois can also provide for furnace assistance or repairs. This component of LIHEAP will be provided to those low income households that qualify for reconnection assistance, but do not have a heating supply or operating furnace for their home. What can be paid for includes repair, tune-up, or the replacement of a furnace.
Reconnection Assistance is available from the Low Income Home Energy Assistance program. If you are currently disconnected, or have a shut off notice, then the state may offer so called reconnection assistance. This form of help is only made to qualifying households that have made an effort to pay their heating bills on their own. In addition, applicants will need to pay a reasonable portion of the reconnection amount or fees.
Any type of payments made from the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program in Illinois will be made directly to the utility company or fuel vendor on behalf of the applicant. If you pay your heating costs as part of your rent, then payment will be made directly to the landlord or to the applicant. Payments can usually be made within 30 days of applying, or much less time if you are faced with an emergency.
Conserve energy and save money from the Illinois Home Weatherization Assistance Program (IHWAP). This will make the homes of low income families more efficient. An extensive array of conservation actions and improvement can be funded through the program.
The first step of the process is an energy audit will be performed. The results of that audit will be used to determine the types of improvements that will be made to the home. Updates to the residence include attic and wall insulation, air sealing, window and door weatherization, and furnace repair and replacement. While the amount of funding will vary, usually up to $6000 will be spent on updating a home. The work will be completed by local contractors or work crews that are specifically trained to install weatherization measures, and an inspection will be done upon completion.
The average savings on your heating bills will vary across Illinois. Studies done in the past show that weatherizing your home can lower your energy bills by up to 25%, however there are no guarantees. In addition, most recipients report an increased comfort level throughout the winter and summer seasons in addition to saving money.
The main goal of the program is to assist those households that have the lowest incomes and that have the highest energy burdens. Qualified households that pay a large percentage of their income for their heating bills are some of the primary beneficiaries, as well as those families that have young children (5 years of age or below), elderly members (60 and over), or a disabled member.
Call the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity at (877) 411-9276 or your local community action agency for details on any of these services.
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