Oklahoma families can get help with paying cooling, heating, and other utility bills. Several resources are available, including the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). This is the primary government funded program that offers cash grants and other financial aid to the less fortunate and working poor. The other main program available is weatherization, which can help lower income families save money on their utilities and help them conserve energy. The names of these financial assistance and programs are often referred to as summer cooling assistance, crisis grants or Fuel/Heating Bill Assistance.
The state of Oklahoma will often combine these programs so that the family gets the most bang for the buck. For example, a lower income family that is signed up for a LIHEAP type service will also be registered for an energy saving program such as weatherization. The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program may provide immediate financial assistance while weatherization will assist the family over the long term. Families who qualify for LIHEAP will only be granted a partial payment of their utility bills, and the money will be paid directly to your utility company or fuel supplier.
The Oklahoma LIHEAP Crisis Assistance is another option, and serves as a last resort to the needy. It can help a family pay their utilities and is intended to address a life threatening condition or an emergency situation. While the state may consider a number of situations as emergencies, some of these can include lack of heat, a broken air conditioner or furnace, utility disconnection, or lack of power for running medical equipment. Seniors, low income families in Oklahoma, and other qualified individuals can receive money to address the crisis. You need to apply at your Department of Human Services office or community action agency. Income restrictions and other conditions are in place.
Heating bill and fuel assistance - The Oklahoma Department of Human Services partners with the Federal Government to provide help for paying winter heating bills. This component of LIHEAP was created to pay only a portion of a family’s monthly and annual heating costs. All types can be paid for, whether propane, natural gas, wood, kerosene, etc. Grants can pay monthly bills, and also pay for other expenses such as deposits, connection or re-connection fees, late charges, furnace re-starts, heating oil, delivery charges, propane and more.
LIHEAP has a goal of providing financial assistance to Oklahoma households with low income but who have a relatively higher percentage of home energy spending. Many people who are currently receiving public assistance through OKDHS will be automatically enrolled in the summer cooling bill assistance program.
The program accepts applications during the fall and winter months, and funding is limited by what the Department of Health and Human Services provides. Community action agencies as well as departments of social services in your town and county accept and process applications, and staff workers at these sites can answer questions. Usually anywhere from $100 to $400 can be paid out per season to qualified applicants.
Summer cooling bill, fans and air conditioning assistance – The state of Oklahoma can sometimes be faced with extreme summer heat and/or humidity. The LIHEAP, or Low Income Home Energy Assistance summer cooling bill program can help people stay cool during the summer. Priority is for individuals with a medical condition, young children, and senior citizens. The funds are designed to help very low-income households that are extremely vulnerable to summer heat. Government grants can be used for many things, such as paying for the purchase of a fan or air conditioner. Some money can help pay your electricity or air conditioning bills and ensure your service is not shut off during extreme weather. Only one payment per beneficiary is allowed annually for each LIHEAP summer cooling assistance.
Another key service is weatherization, which is the Oklahoma Department of Human Services program that is also authorized by the federal government., but is run locally. Interested people need to apply at their local social service office. This is another state as well as federal government grant type program. Lower income families can receive free energy conservation measures for their home, with the objective of reducing their annual heating costs and utility bills.
The US Department of Energy provides funds and grants to the state of Oklahoma as part of the Weatherization Assistance program, and all government assistance is intended to help people reduce a home’s heating and cooling bills. Improvements can also improve a home by ensuring it is safe and that its occupants have what they need to stay healthy. The weatherization program in Oklahoma can pay for improvements such as repair a furnace or air conditioner. It can also pay for the installation of energy conservation measures such as CFL bulbs, caulking, insulation, and more. Other updates can include installation of weather-stripping, replacing your furnace, window sealing, and sealing cracks in your exterior wall.
Only Oklahoma residents who are citizens and who can provide their income levels and need for help may qualify for the program. Visit the Department of Human Services office or the community action agency in your community to apply or for more information. Note that it is only offered for low-income families, with a focus on the most vulnerable. So this will be someone with a child, elderly member, or a serious medical condition. Other factors used to determine eligibility for LIHEAP or weatherization include a review of each household’s income, number of family members and assets. Exceptions can be made from time to time if funding allows.
To apply for Low Income Energy Assistance (LIHEAP) or weatherization call the Oklahoma Department of Human Services at (405) 521-3444.
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