Virginia families have several resources available to them for paying utility bills. The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program – LIHEAP offers cash grants and other aid to the less fortunate. Weatherization can help lower income families save and conserve energy. The primary financial assistance and cash grant services offered include Fuel, Heating and Cooling Bill Assistance as well as resources to help deal with a crisis.
These various programs are often combined together in order to be most effective. For example, a family that is enrolled in a LIHEAP type service will often be able to apply for weatherization or be able to receive other energy conservation updates. So while a cash grant can pay someone’s immediate utility bill, saving energy is key to addressing the issue over the long term.
Fuel Assistance is the component that helps with paying heating bills. This was designed to pay a portion of heating costs, and not the clients entire expense. Not only can it help pay the monthly bills, but it can also help with addressing needs such as connection or re-connection fees, furnace re-starts, late charges, installation and delivery charges and more. In addition to income guidelines needing to be met, applications are only accepted during a short window of time. Fuel Assistance assists households in paying for their primary heating source. Local departments of social services in Virginia both process and accept applications during October and November.
LIHEAP Crisis Assistance is an option when an individual or family has no other options available to them, and it can address an emergency situation or life threatening condition. While a number of situations can be considered emergencies, some of them can include, but are not limited to, utility cut-off is imminent, lack of heat, or unsafe/inoperable heating equipment or furnaces. Low income families in Virginia can receive money to purchase a portable space heater, payment of a utility security deposit; grants for buying oil, propane or fuel, and the repair or replacement of heating or air conditioning equipment.
This crisis program usually runs from November to March, and applications are accepted at community action agencies and/or social service centers. Income levels needs to be met, and applicants need to be US citizens in order to apply for emergency cash grants.
Air Conditioning and Cooling Assistance – When Virginia is faced with extreme summer heat, this resource may help. The main purpose of the Low Income Home Energy Assistance cooling bill component is to prevent or help with emergencies resulting from extreme heat or humidity, and people can apply from June to August.
Most of this aid is for people with households that have one or more vulnerable or an at risk person. This includes families with a disabled individual, someone aged 60 or over, or a child under six years old. Receive money for the purchase of an air conditioner or fan; money to pay an electricity bills, funds to repair a central air conditioning unit or heat pump, or other support.
The Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development ((804) 371-7000) administers Weatherization at the state level; however people need to apply at their local social service office. The federal government funded program will provide energy efficiency, conservation and air infiltration measures to households that have at least one vulnerable person and that meet income limits.
As part of the Weatherization Assistance program, the federal government provides funds and grants to the states to help them reduce their residents heating and cooling bills. A side benefit is also for helping low-income families improve their health and safety. The free program can pay for things like the repairs and improvements to home heating (furnaces) and cooling (air conditioners) systems, and provides for the installation of other energy-saving measures (such as insulation) in the house. All services are free, and are often combined with financial aid from LIHEAP.
Usually households will qualify for this resource based on their income, but keep in mind that it is only offered for low-income families with children and households that have elderly persons or a disabled member. Normally, Virginia households receiving cash payments under Titles IV and XVI of the Social Security Act are eligible, and some other exceptions may be made as well. Renters can also apply.
The process to receive weatherization is generally as follows. You will receive an audit of your home. This will help identify the best energy conservation and saving measures to take that are safe and cost effective.
Some of these updates can include installation of ventilation fans, sealing air leaks with additional insulation, caulking, and weather-stripping, installation of energy efficient lighting, and also repairing and replacing unsafe or inefficient heating and cooling systems. All of these updates are offered at no cost to homeowners.
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