A federal government grant is offered to Washington every year and the funds are used to help pay heating bills and provide weatherization services across the state. The goal of LIHEAP is to help keep people who are most at risk safe and warm during the winter, and weatherization will try to ensure homes are more energy efficient and help people save money.
The Washington Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program offers cash assistance to low-income families with young children, elderly members, and individuals with disabilities. Weatherization also focuses on these groups, as they are considered the most vulnerable to a medical condition or serious health risks associated with improperly heated homes.
Both emergency assistance as well as ongoing one time payments are offered as part of LIHEAP. The government program can help low-income households that have the highest energy burdens, which is usually people with the lowest incomes.
The Washington State Department of Commerce oversees the programs operation, however LIHEAP is a federal government funded program. Home heating bill assistance is provided for those households whose total income is at or below certain federal government poverty levels. Many beneficiaries have disabled individuals (around 20%), almost half have children, and some recipients are elderly (~10%). The state can help pay heating costs for qualified people living in Washington State of every race, age, gender, and level of education who are income eligible. Tens of thousands of households across the state receive some form of assistance every year.
Among other services, your local community action agency is focused on helping low-income and working poor households pay for the heat for their homes and case workers will help people avoid service shut-offs. One of the key programs offered to due this is LIHEAP. In addition, the agencies often partner with utility companies and other non-profit in order to reach needy families in the state. Referrals to other resources and government programs are provided too.
The amount paid out will vary. For an eligible low income household, the energy assistance program will consider your source/type of heating, housing structure, and annual heating costs when establishing a payment amount. In general, LIHEAP will pay anywhere from $50 to $1000 per year. The information on your grant being approved will be sent to your utility company and the total amount of the grant will be applied directly to your bill. If your need is critical, the process is accelerated.
Unfortunately a percentage of low income families and/or seniors may have poorly insulated housing, inefficient heating systems, and other structural challenges that can allow heat to escape from your home, and therefore lead to wasted money. This is where weatherization can help. Another challenge that can be addressed is for those low-income households that cannot easily recover from an equipment failure or weather-related emergency.
Weatherization will help people save on and reduce both heating and cooling bills for low-income families. This program will also focus on the elderly, people with disabilities, and children from low income families. Eligibility is also based on total household income levels. Assistance can improve the energy efficiency of homes while ensuring the occupants health and safety. It can help Washington state residents overcome the high cost of energy by making homes more energy efficient.
Energy conservation measures taken on a home may or may not include weatherization measures such as caulking and sealing cracks and holes in a building structure, weather-stripping of doors and windows, repair, replacement, or tune-up of non-functional heating systems, insulating attics, walls and under floors. Some safety and health issues can be made to, such as incidental repairs necessary to protect the weatherization material.
To learn more on LIHEAP or weatherization, call the Washington State Department of Commerce at 360-725-2857 or your local community action agency.
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