Assistance with New Hampshire heating bills.
During the winter, many New Hampshire energy companies provide emergency heating bill assistance and free energy conservation measures. Programs can provide oil, money for paying electric bills, and fuel assistance grants. The primary resources for low income New Hampshire families are below.
If you do not qualify for federal government heating or energy programs, or if you have used up all the aid that is offered by them, then the next option is Neighbors Helping Neighbors. Almost all utility companies participate in this statewide program. It relies heavily on donations and contributions from people and businesses in the community, and it is a fund of last resort.
The program may have some grants or money that can pay your bills in a crisis. Applications for it are processed at community action agencies, and it operates during the cold NH winter months. Call or stop by a community action agency in your county, or call your local town social service office.
State law also requires that every town and city offer residents faced with poverty emergency assistance. This can include money for gas, oil, kerosene, and heating bills.
Project Care is another donation type program that is supported by many of the New Hampshire Cooperatives. Funds and grants can help people who are in a crisis, and grants and money can help people pay their winter heating, electricity and gas bills when they are faced with a disconnection, or if their service has already been turned off. Most of the money comes from the Operation Round Up program that is available across the state.
A limited amount of free heating oil is distributed as part of the JOE-4-OIL program. This is a privately run program that is in very high demand. To learn more or apply call 1-877-563-4645, and the call center is only open limited hours.
This corporate resource was mainly created by the Citizens Energy Oil Heat Program working closely with other businesses and organizations. It has been operating for over 30 years, and has distributed millions of gallons of heating oil to seniors, low income families, the unemployed, and struggling families in Nashua, Portsmouth and other areas. This unique energy program operates in New Hampshire and across the entire Northeast, and it may just provide families enough oil to make it through the winter. It will help free up their income so families can pay for other basic needs.
The main federal government assistance program is LIHEAP, also known as the Fuel Assistance Program. Very low income individuals and residents of the state may receive grants for their winter heating bills, or money to reconnect their service. The Fuel Assistance Program, which is administered by community action agencies, may also help struggling households during a heating crisis or shut off. Agencies can use LIHEAP to secure an emergency delivery of fuel for the resident. This will delay a shut-off notice, or the agency can refer clients to another source of assistance from providers such as Unitil or National Grid.
While government funding can change every year, generally Fuel Assistance benefits paid out will range from $120 to $975 per year, depending on the applicants household income and total energy costs. The average paid out in the past is usually about $500. Another good thing about this program is the household can still apply for other non-profit resources, charity resources or public aid/benefits at the same time. Call a local agency to apply.
Heating discounts and conservation
There are two energy conservation programs that operate in New Hampshire. The first one is paid for by the federal government, and it is the low income weatherization program. The second one is known as Home Energy Assistance, and it is run and organized directly by energy companies.
Weatherization is free to very low income families and focuses on seniors and families with children. Contractors from your community action agency will make improvements to your home, and potentially help you save hundreds of dollars per year on your heating costs.
Home Energy Assistance, which is really another conservation program, is sponsored by many utility companies as well, including Granite State Electric. Normally up to a few thousand dollars can be paid out to income qualified residents, and funds are offered whether someone rents or owns their home. Money can pay for things like improving or replacing windows with more energy-saving storm windows, upgrades to ENERGY STAR lighting and appliances, programmable thermostats and much more.
Another winter program is a discount service that is available. Energy and natural gas companies in New Hampshire will offer qualifying low income heating customers with up to a 50 percent discount on the delivery portion of their natural gas bill.