Get help with heating bills, furnace repairs, and free energy conservation from the Minnesota Energy Assistance Program and weatherization. Both of these services are paid for by the U.S. Department of Human Services, and they are also partly funded by the federal government low income home energy assistance program, or LIHEAP. Applicants need to meet a number of conditions, but in general households in Minnesota with the highest energy bills and lowest incomes will receive the greatest benefit from EAP.
More details on both programs are below, but some of the key benefits are as follows. Assistance is available for homeowners or renters. Grants are available for the payment of heating bills, and a crisis component of EAP can help with necessary fuel deliveries or utility disconnections. Energy conservation can also lead to the permanent reduction of your energy bills.
Many lower income families, seniors, and the disabled struggle with paying their heating bills during the cold Minnesota fall, winter, and spring months. The state’s Energy Assistance Program, or EAP, can help struggling families and individuals pay their heating and utility bills during this time. Cash grants are available during the cold spells and months, as funding allows. Priority is given to residents who are most at risk if they lose their heating service, so the program focuses on the disabled, elderly, and families with young children.
The program is administered by the Minnesota Department of Commerce, however you can apply at your local community action agency. Or call your utility company for information and referrals. If you apply and are enrolled, the amount of assistance a beneficiary receives will vary based on several factors. While the average grant is around $500, some people may receive over $1000. What is considered is your income, the number of people that live in your household, the type and how much fuel you use. In general, those families with the lowest incomes and the highest heating bills or energy usage will receive the most financial assistance from EAP. Grants are provided directly to the utility company. Some people can also receive furnace replacements or repair/ in a crisis.
There is also a crisis component of the Minnesota Energy Assistance Program. This is for people who have no heat as they have run out of fuel, their service was terminated, or their heating system broke. When you apply, be sure to tell the agency you have no heat, and bring a copy of your shut off notice with your application. Your application will be prioritized and expedited.
You may be able to permanently reduce your heating and energy bills from the Weatherization program. This is yet another federal government funded program, and it can sometimes be offered at the same time as EAP. Income qualified households can save money by receiving free conservation measures, which will have the effect of reducing their annual heating bills. Weatherization works by helping to make homes in Minnesota more energy efficient, while also enhancing and improving the residence’s health and safety.
At first, an energy audit will occur and will be done to evaluate potential weatherization work and improvements to your home. The objective is to keep more heat in the home during the winter, to reduce airflow, improve the functioning of your heating system, and keep the home well insulated.
In needed, the contractor can test, repair, or even replace the homeowner’s heating systems or furnace. They will add additional exterior wall and attic insulation if needed. Other updates include air infiltration and bypass sealing, caulking, and window sealing. As indicated, the repair, tune up or replacement of homeowners' malfunctioning heating systems can also be part of this service too. All of this is done for free as Weatherization and the federal government will pay for all updates to your home.
Families in Minnesota will also get tips on ways to save energy, and can participate in education classes. Studies show that if people have more information on what they can do when it comes to energy conservation, that knowledge can make a big difference. Professionals will educate consumers about how to use home heating energy efficiently and safely, and they will also advocates with human service providers in Minnesota as well as energy suppliers on behalf of consumers.
If interested in more information or applying, households will need to apply for weatherization by completing a joint Energy Assistance Program/Weatherization application. Priority for this program will also be given to applicants with elderly or disabled family members, people receiving TANF or Supplemental Security Income, those with children 18 years of age or younger, and also low income people with high energy consumption.
When you apply for EAP or weatherization in Minnesota, the process will involve some or all of the following. For all members of your home, you will need to provide proof of income and identification. This includes copies check stubs, unemployment, insurance, SSI, disability, and more. Applicants will also need to have a copy of your most recent electric and/or heating bill. Basically you will need to provide your hardship in order to get assistance from these programs.
Call 1-800-657-3710 to have your local EAP provider send you an application, and you will need to complete it and mail necessary forms to your local energy assistance provider or community action agency.
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