If you need help with electric, utility, or heating bills.
There are places you can turn to if you need help with paying your electric, utility, water or heating bills. Several different applications are available to energy bill assistance programs. Emergency financial help is provided to pay electric bills by numerous federal and state government organizations as well as charities. There are also non-profits that may offer grants for paying a portion of an utility bill and there are solutions, such as payment plans, that are offered directly by utility companies.
- Government programs are offered at the federal and state level.
- Assistance for paying heating bills, including free or low cost fuel or oil, may be offered.
- Utility companies offer payment plans, free conservation measures, and shut off prevention to their customers.
- Non-profits, charities, and social service agencies may have limited cash assistance to help with paying electric and light bills. Find additional details on these resources below.
If someone is struggling to keep up with their energy costs, first you should always contact your utility company to find out about any programs they offer. Many utilities offer financial help via shareholder or community funded emergency payment assistance programs. These will provide cash assistance, credits, or allow the household to enter into a budgeting program. These solutions can help offset the costs of cooling and heating homes, and they will provide needed help with escalating electricity bills.
There are also numerous other plans and options that will provide assistance if you need it. As an example, some utility companies offer payment plans to help you manage your energy bills, such as balanced payment plans. These will charge you a fixed amount each month so you can better budget your electric bill costs.
Countless non-profit agencies and charities offer emergency financial assistance to help a family keep their lights on. Free government grants can also both help pay your energy bills or the money may be used to pay for conservation measures. Look into the organizations or programs below.
Government utility bill assistance
The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) Block Grant is funded by the Federal Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) and provides two basic types of services. Eligible low-income persons, via local governmental and nonprofit organizations, can receive financial assistance to offset the costs of heating and/or cooling dwellings and/or have their dwellings weatherized to make them more energy efficient. Information on LIHEAP by state.
Applications for the program are usually processed by community action agencies. These non-profits also have information on many other resources that may be able to help with paying utility bills. Find how to get help with heating bills from assistance programs offered by your local utility companies, charities and local government. Or read more on electric bill programs from LIHEAP
LIHEAP crisis programs can be an option for low income families that are faced with an emergency such as a disconnection or that are very low on heating oil or fuel. Grants and financial assistance can be paid out directly to your energy company for your unpaid bill. The funds can be expedited to households that are faced with a shut off of their electric or utility service. The LIHEAP crisis program may even provide grants within 24 business hours in some cases.
The Weatherization Assistance Program will provide free energy conservation and weatherization services to those in need to help improve the energy efficiency of homes. Some services included are weatherstripping, wall and attic insulation, minor home repairs, and furnace tune ups. There may be other related energy saving measures that will help people lower their electric bills and save money. More on weatherization assistance.
The Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) will provide financial help to eligible households who need assistance paying bills. Applications are available for senior citizens and the disabled before others, and they receive priority to any funds. The resources provided will offset the costs of paying for the heating and/or cooling bills of dwellings.
Regulations on Heating and Utility Disconnections - Most states have laws that regulate when an utility company can disconnect a customers service. Typically they state that companies can’t disconnect your power during the cold winter or hot summer months. Families with children often have additional laws protecting them, as well as if the customer has a medical need. Learn more on utility disconnection laws.
Telephone and Internet - Low income families can receive discounts on their monthly phone bills from Lifeline, free cellular phones, or even savings on their high speed cable Internet connection. Some of these services are combined with other electric bill programs as well, such as LIHEAP, so a customer will automatically be eligible for them. Continue reading on telephone and internet programs.
State Assistance Programs - Many states offer additional assistance programs, in addition to LHEAP, that can help you and your family with paying utility or heating bills. There may also be programs that will help you save energy by reducing your electric bills through energy saving methods, such as the installation of new appliances, free insulation, etc. Non-profits as well as state government assistance may be available for utility bills.
Heating Repair Replacement Program (HARRP) - This is another federal government funded program that is usually offered by your local community action agency. It may be called slightly different names in each state, bit it works the same in most parts of the country. It is often used in conjunction with the Weatherization program. It can provide for the repair or replacement of heating units, appliances, furnaces, and other home upgrades. Read more Heating Repair and Replacement programs.
Free air conditioning units and window fans are available during the summer months. The assistance is usually provided as part of LIHEAP or charities such as the Salvation Army provide them to low income families. The free AC units are often combined with emergency utility bill assistance to help keep a struggling family cool. Most of the systems are given to senor citizens, the disabled, or low income single mothers or parents. Find details on free air conditioners.
Help to turn on electric - Once a shut off has occurred, it can be difficult for customers to reconnect their utilities in a timely manner. This is especially true of very low income families with limited or no money available to them. There are assistance programs that households can use to turn on their power, whether it is lights, electric, or heat. Find how to get help to turn on utilities.
Heating bill programs
Free and Discounted Home Heating Oil. The Citizens Energy Oil Heat Program has delivered millions of gallons of discounted and free home heating oil to elderly households. There is also assistance for lower income households that are struggling. There is support for those living in poverty or impacted by an emergency, such as a job loss. Find how to get free heating oil and fuel.
Another option is to use a home heating oil buying network. Companies that offer this service are in effect acting as a wholesale heating fuel oil buying club that provide individuals with lower priced heating oil. Heating oil networks provide extensive savings to households of all income levels.
Winter Protection Programs and Plans are seasonal resources that are generally offered during the colder winter months. Some states require that utility and natural gas companies offer these plans to all customers. Households that are facing a disconnection of their utilities or heating service, but that have a senior member, young child, or someone that is sick or disabled, may be protected from a shut off of their account as long as they enter into some sort of payment program. More on winter protection plans.
Financial resources and weatherization services offered by utility companies
Utility Company Assistance Programs. Most utility companies and energy providers located around the nation provide their customers with a large number of financial assistance programs. The resources range from cash grants to credits on an account for any bills in arrears and weatherization options. Get more information on energy assistance.
Balanced Payment Plans - These are offered by many utility companies as a way to help pay as well as manage your bills. These plans provide the customer a way of paying their electric bill that is a flat rate per month. So families can budget for the seasonal spikes in their heating or cooling costs.
It will ensure your utility bill, and the payments you need to make, do not dramatically increase during the winter or summer months. For example, if your annual electric bill is $960 per year, you may pay a flat fee of $80 per month, rather than paying a higher amount in the summer or winter.
Energy Assistance Programs - In addition to LIHEAP, there are numerous energy assistance programs at the local, state, and federal level. Programs are even offered by utility companies themselves. Find a list of energy assistance programs by state and utility company.
Air conditioning bills, fans, and summer help - Many states, in particular those in the south and west, provide financial assistance during the summer for paying cooling and electric bills. Emergency cash assistance, grants, and more may be offered, such as free box fans or AC units. Read more summer electric bill assistance.
Home Energy Audit - Many utility companies will offer these as a free service, or provide it for a very low fee. These audits will help a homeowner identify where your home needs to be improved or updated in order to help reduce your energy usage. If an audit identifies an area that you can improve, some utility companies will even contribute towards the expense that is incurred to fix the home, if you meet their income criteria.
Assistance with water bills - American Water operates subsidiaries across the country. They offer their customers two different programs that can help them with paying their water bills. They include the H2O - Help to Others and the Low-Income Payment plan. Learn more on the options that you have for water bill help. They also provide free audits that can reduce your usage.