If you need help paying your winter heating bills in Ohio, various government programs as well as resources that are offered by non-profits can assist. Many of the energy companies in Ohio also offer their own financial assistance programs, including Duke Energy, Columbia Gas, AEP Ohio, and Dominion East. Each company and program will have limited resources and an application process in place, so you will need to call or stop by in order to apply.
The Salvation Army in Ohio works with most utility companies to offer HeatShare. It can assist elderly customers, the disabled, unemployed, as well as low income families with paying their heating bills. Duke Energy is a major contributor and participant in HeatShare, however the Salvation Army can also help qualified customers of other companies including Columbia Gas.
HeatShare is available from January until April. Or it may end earlier if the funds run out. Call either your local Salvation Army center, or dial 513-762-5636 for more information.
Home Energy Assistance Program, or HEAP, is the federal government heating assistance program for Ohio. It will only pay a portion of your natural gas, electricity, or heating oil bill and the beneficiary still needs to contribute. Only low income households can receive a grant from this program, with emphasis given to seniors and households with children. (800) 848-1300
The state of Ohio requires that all energy companies offer the Percentage of Income Payment Plan (PIPP Plus). This can help families avoid a shut off of their heat during the winter months, or at other times of the year if need be. If a customer makes a partial payment on their account then they can avoid a disconnection of their electricity or natural gas service. If you qualify, customers will need to pay only 6 percent of their monthly household income, or a $10 minimum payment, for their bills.
Energy Share is another assistance program that is administered by the Salvation Army and it relies on donations and contributions from the community. While it is focused on Dominion East Ohio customers, it may be offered in other parts of the state as well. Funds and grants can be paid out for any type of winter heating bill, whether you use electricity, natural gas, kerosene, wood, or heating oil. You can contact your local Salvation Army corps center for more information or to apply.
The Office of the Ohio Consumers’ Counsel provides legal type advice, including details on Energy Disconnection and Reconnection services. Learn about your legal rights involving disconnection issues and the counsel can also help facilitate payment assistance plans. 1-877-742-5622, or find more information on disconnection laws.
Ohio Gas Residential Low Income Pilot Program is only offered on a trial basis by some energy providers. Lower income households that use less than 900 ccf of natural gas per year may qualify. Assistance is offered to participants. A similar benefit is the Ohio Electric Residential Low Income Pilot Program, which is available for electricity bills.
Conservation is offered from the Electric Partnership Program (EPP), and this can help people save money on their annual heating and utility bills. It is offered by the Ohio Department of Development, and the program was created to improve the overall efficiency and energy conservation aspects of low-income households who are also signed up for the Percentage of Income Payment Plan. The program will coordinate in-home audits of your home, and it will install appropriate thermal energy efficiency measures and electric base load improvements.
Customers with a life-threatening, serious, or debilitating medical condition may qualify for the Ohio Medical Certification Program. It needs to be proven by a doctor or medical professional. If qualified, you will be provided additional time to pay your heating bill before your service is shut off. Call 1-800-362-7557. All bills still need to be paid, so the Medical Certification Program does not provide direct financial assistance.
The Winter Reconnect Order needs to be followed by all utility and gas companies, as it is a law put into place by the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio. All residents of the state, regardless of their income or financial condition, who are threatened with disconnection or who have had their heat turned off are entitled to have it turned back on during the cold winter months, provided they meet qualifications.
Senior citizens and the elderly should contact their local Area Agency on Aging office or the Ohio Department of Aging. Volunteers and staff can help seniors apply for energy assistance programs, including crisis aid. They can also get information about AEP Ohio or Duke Energy financial assistance programs. Call (866) 243-5678.
The Ohio Winter Crisis Program is also called Emergency HEAP or E-HEAP. Qualified customers can receive help with their heating bills once per winter heating season. Funds can help restore your service, or money can be used to prevent a disconnection in the first place. Call 1-800-282-0880 for information.
Neighbor to Neighbor Program is offered by AEP Ohio and possibly other providers. If you are on the verge of shut off, or if your service has already been disconnected, then funds may be available to assist. A grant and/or credit will be placed on your account.
Weatherization Assistance is coordinated by the Ohio Department of Development as well as your local community action agency. The program can help you seal your home from insulation and repair drafts. The improvements are free, and have been shown to save homeowners on average a few hundred dollars per year on their annual heating or utility bills. Call 1-800-282-0880.
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