Whether you need assistance paying utility bills in Tennessee, or help with conserving energy, the federal government created weatherization and the low income energy assistance program, or LIHEAP, may be your two best options. The resources provide families with grants, counseling, and financial support and are often combined together to be most effective.
The main federal funded grant program is known as LIHEAP, and it is offered in Tennessee to low income families, in particular seniors and those with children. The program offers more regular financial assistance or crisis support to low income households in the state, with a focus on those that pay a high proportion of their total household income on their home energy needs. While the federal government funds it and provides most of the money to Tennessee, applications are accepted and processed at your local community agency or other social service office. All agencies that are part of this program are required to offer both regular LIHEAP and Crisis assistance to those who qualify.
The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program provides help for the payments of heating bills including natural gas, electric, propane or other energy resources. It is important to note that your energy source does not have to be natural gas or electric, and you do not have to own the home in order to get assistance. Money also pays for propane, wood, kerosene and coal costs. Do not wait too long to apply, as funds are limited and the demand is very high. Also please allow the state and your local community action agency enough time to process your payment prior to the threat of disconnection, or you may need to pay additional fees or deposits. If your service does somehow get shut off, then the crisis component may be able to help.
The Summer Cooling Program is for families with children under six years old, households with senior citizens, and those with serious medical conditions. So the help offered is for during the hot Tennessee summer, and it is for those that are exacerbated by the extreme humidity or heat conditions. Assistance is offered in the form of a free fan and/or air conditioning unit, and this usually runs from May until September. This component of LIHEAP is more rare, and is really determined by available funding.
While some government grants pays for this, this particular program is also paid for and supported by monetary donations from the general public. Most community action agencies also accept contributions of new air conditioning units.
The Tennessee Weatherization Assistance Program can help people achieve long term and permanent savings on their utility bills. It is offered for low income homeowners and renters (if their landlord approves and participates) and can weatherize someone’s home and assist them with reducing their energy consumption and utility bills. Some common updates include insulation, tuning of heating and cooling systems, caulking, window glazing, free CFL bulbs, and more.
It makes homes more energy efficient, and is free to qualified individuals. Funds and grants from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) are used to improve the energy performance of a Tennessee family’s home. The network of non-profit local community action agencies across the region also provide these services to those who qualify, and will also usually try to sign up people for LIHEAP.
Income restrictions are in place, and people who live within certain federal government established levels can apply. Priority for any low income energy bill assistance or weatherization is given to disabled low income persons, the elderly, and other low income families with children under the age of six years. LIHEAP is only offered as one-time assistance for heating and cooling bills. High energy consuming homes in Tennessee may also get priority. Contact your local county Community Action Agency for an appointment and application, or dial (615) 313-5451.
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