New Jersey heating bill assistance programs.
When it comes to heating bill assistance in New Jersey, low income and struggling families have a number of resources available to them. Many energy, natural gas, and utility companies offer their own resources. In addition, several federal government and state of New Jersey programs can help low income residents either pay their bills or assist with weatherization. Additional resources, such as the Winter Termination program, will prevent disconnections or Fresh Start may in fact waive past due balances on your account. Get information on these and other programs, including some offered by NJ Natural Gas or PSE&G, below.
The state, through the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities as well as the Affordable Housing Alliance, created a grant program known as Temporary Relief for Utility Expenses (TRUE). Working poor, low income, and even more moderate income families may qualify for several hundred dollars for your winter heating bills, including gas and electricity. Funding is limited.
During the winter, many consumers are protected from a shut off of their heat. The Winter Termination Program is pretty wide ranging and covers many different families and companies, including PSE&G. Some of the beneficiaries are people enrolled in LIHEAP, Work First New Jersey/Temporary Assistance to Needy Families, Lifeline, SSI, or families who receive help from Pharmaceutical Assistance to the Aged and Disabled. People who are unemployed or have a medical condition are also protected by the Winter Termination Program. Call 800.624.0241 or your utility company to enroll, and proof is needed.
The main federal government program is LIHEAP, or the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program. It helps the low income by offering them grants for paying winter heating bills, and it runs from about October to March of each year. All aid is limited and offered on a first come and served basis, so apply as soon as the enrollment period starts. Social service agencies in Newark, Jersey City, and other counties process applications.
People who are on public assistance, such as Social Security (SSI) or PAAD, including seniors and the disabled, may receive a few hundred dollars for paying their energy bills. Money is only offered if you heat with electricity or natural gas. Call 800.792.9745 or stop by the New Jersey Department of Health to apply.
The Home Energy Assistance Program may also have additional funds available for heating repairs, including a furnace. The program may even provide for medically necessary cooling assistance and help during the summer as well.
A few of the free energy conservation programs offered are NJ Comfort Partners, Universal Service Fund (USF) Program as well as weatherization. The Comfort Partners service will provide for the direct installation of energy efficiency measures, provide tips, education and advice, and more. Weatherization is the federal government option for conserving energy. It offers free comprehensive energy conservation improvements to reduce energy consumption as well as your home’s overall heat loss. Many homes in Newark and other towns are older, so free energy conservation can really benefit them. Last, but not least is Universal Service Fund (USF) Program, which helps consumers save energy. All companies actively participate in these conservation measures, including Atlantic City Electric and Jersey Central Power & Light.
Some of what can be provided includes installation of free energy efficiency measures such as CFL bulbs, replacement of inefficient refrigerators, programmable thermostats, furnace repairs or maintenance, insulation and more. A huge benefit is that a family can apply for all three of these at the same time, and potentially benefit from them. Call 1.888.773.8326.
A leading non-profit to call for help is NJSHARES, the New Jersey Statewide Heating Assistance and Referral Energy Service, Inc. Heating bill assistance arranged by this agency is for more moderate income residents, and resources can help those who do qualify for other state or federal government energy programs. Applications are accepted at hundreds of sites and non-profits around the state. It is offered in combination with the TRUE Program, and as funding allows up to $1000 can be used for paying natural gas or electric bills.
The Fresh Start Program is often offered along with USF, and is available for people who have less than a $60 balance on their energy bill. Phone number is 1.866.240.1347 for information. If you are found to be qualified and meet program terms, Fresh Start will both improve your payment record and forgive past due balances. Thousands of PSE&G customers have benefited from this over the years. Among other conditions, a customer will need to keep current on their payment plan, pay on time, and do this for a period of time which is normally about one year. If all this is done then the past due balance on your account will be eliminated.
Another federal government option is Emergency Assistance, and this is mostly offered during the winter to people who are faced with a crisis. It can pay for the reconnection/restoration of your heat, or provide for the delivery of fuel or heating oil. If funds are available money can also be disbursed to pay a portion of your bill so that you are not disconnected when you need it most. Additional emergency assistance may also include repairs that need to be made to a heater.