When it comes to paying your heating bills, Massachusetts families have access to several programs that can help. Some resources are offered by the state or federal government, and others are administered by energy companies and non-profit organizations. Thousands of Boston, Worcester, Springfield, and low income families across Massachusetts receive heating bill assistance every year.
The main resource is Fuel Assistance, which is the state’s version of the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). Grants and cash assistance are available for paying winter heating bills, including natural gas and electricity. This is offered across the state of Massachusetts. Many people rent their homes in cities such as Boston or Cambridge, and they too can qualify for LIHEAP fuel assistance.
Another government resource is emergency furnace repairs and/or replacement. If your heating system is not working properly, or completely shut down, then funds can be provided to either replace it or repair it. The solution will depend on the exact condition of the unit.
Massachusetts also offers families, seniors, and the low income free weatherization assistance. Many homes in Massachusetts are older and were built decades ago, so weatherization can help improve and repair them. Reduce drafts by adding insulation or caulking and similar improvements, all of which can help families save a significant amount of money on their heating bills. In general, many homeowners can save $300 to $400 per year on their annual energy bills. Call 1-800-632-8175 for information on any of these resources.
Whether you use natural gas or oil, the Citizens Energy Heat Assistance Program can help low income families who need financial help with paying heating bills. If you use natural gas as your fuel source, the Distrigas program can provide you with a monthly credit on your account, and it can be as much as $150. Customers, including seniors, that use heating oil may benefit from the Citizens Energy Oil Heat Program, which can basically provide qualified customers with a voucher for free heating oil. In general, up to 100 gallons can be provided to qualified customers. Call 617-338-6300, or learn more free heating oil.
The Good Neighbor Energy Fund is a charity and donation program for those Massachusetts families who are facing an emergency or crisis. Heating bill assistance can be provided to even more moderate income customers whose income is too high for other state or federal government fuel assistance programs. It is offered between the Salvation Army, utility companies in Massachusetts such as NSTAR, Citizens Energy, and others. Up to $350 can be paid out for your heating and gas bills. It is available across the state, so stop by or call your local community action agency in Springfield or Boston, or call 1-800-334-3047 to find a location near you.
Many energy providers in Massachusetts also offer resources to low income customers. Some examples include Arrearage Management Programs, which can help forgive/eliminate unpaid heating bills and also help low-income customers control their expenses. Utility Arrearage Programs can both help prevent a shut off of your heat, or it can assist with turning your utilities or power back on. It provides debt forgiveness and payment plans. The Residential Assistance for Families in Transition (RAFT) focuses on homeless prevention in Massachusetts, but if you are facing eviction due to unpaid utilities then RAFT can help in those cases too.
Local non-profits and charities across the state, including in Boston, Cambridge, and Worcester run fuel and heating assistance programs for those with no other options and who do not qualify for other heating programs. Churches, community action agencies, and groups such as Catholic Charities may all administer these. Examples include the Emergency Food and Shelter Program (EFSP), cash funds, and more.
Laws in Massachusetts require something called Utility Shutoff Protection. The state prevents utility and natural gas companies from shutting off service to people with serious illnesses, senior citizens, and low-income families with infants. During the cold winter months in Boston and across the state, utility companies cannot shut off a qualified customer’s heat. They need to provide people with payment plans and other options.
MassSave is another conservation program for renters and homeowners. It offers free home energy assessments, tips, advice, rebates, and free or low cost energy-saving products to consumers. It was created in partnership between utility and electric companies as well as retailers across the state.
Free heating oil is provided from The JOE-4-OIL program. Corporations including Citizens Energy distribute a small quantity of free heating oil to low income Massachusetts families who qualify. Normally up to 100 gallons may be offered during the winter. This is run by CITGO Petroleum, Citizens Energy Corporation, a number of Massachusetts fuel oil dealers, the MASSCAP Directors Association, and local uel/community assistance agencies. Call 877-563-4645.
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