New York State programs for paying cooling bills.

The State of New York does its best to ensure that senior citizens and individuals with a serious health issue stay cool during the summer. A focus is on ensuring people are prepared to deal with high and humid temperatures and potentially avoid a life threatening condition. The Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) will often disburse grants during the summer to pay cooling and electric bills. Fans and air conditioners may also be available. Priority is for the most medically vulnerable New Yorkers, including seniors, disabled, children, and the sick.

When someone gets to the really hot days of summer and when they have a medical condition it can be extra difficult for them if they don't have a cooling source. It can also be challenging for the elderly. So the program was created to address this.

Millions of dollars may be paid out during the summer. In addition, air conditioning units can be provided to income eligible households statewide. To be qualified for this program, households need to meet all of the state's income guidelines and have at least one household member that suffers from a documented medical condition which is made worse by humidity or heat. Also if you have benefited from the summer HEAP program within the last few years then you may not be qualified.

Any air conditioners, fans, or financial assistance from the HEAP Cooling Bill Assistance Program is disbursed on a first-come, first-served basis. In order to get more information or to apply, you need to call your local Departments of Social Services office. Financially, you must be HEAP eligible and have a medical condition, or a family member, that is worsened by heat. The program has a limited amount of money which is why you shouldn’t wait to apply.

New York State is accepting applications during the spring for cooling assistance. Enrollment is offered early to help ensure that air conditioners get to those people who need the most help. The program will only usually run until July, or until funds run out. If you are found to be qualified, families determined eligible will receive one free fan or air conditioner. It will also be installed at no charge to the household.





The state, using grant money from the HEAP Cooling Assistance Program, will provide for the purchase and installation of a powerful fan or air conditioner. Or funds can be used to pay an electric bill. The price of the unit can't exceed $800. In addition, the unit will be efficient. As whenever possible, window air conditioning units with an Energy Star rating will be installed. In those circumstances or households in which an air conditioner cannot be safely or economically used, a free box fan will be provided. Only one air conditioner will be provided per applicant.

The state will even assist with getting the air conditioner installed. Your local office will have information on participating Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) vendors. While they can help install it, it will be the homeowners responsibility to maintain the air conditioner in good working order. This includes the responsibility to cover, remove, clean, store, and/or reinstall the unit after vendor installation.

Some of the other qualifications for assistance during the summer include you and your household members need to be either United States Citizens or so called qualified aliens. As indicated, the household needs to have an individual that is at risk. This can include a documented and certified medical condition that is exacerbated by heat. Or a very young child or senior member of the family. Income restrictions are in place too. Many people who receive Supplemental Security Income, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or TANF will automatically qualify.




By Jon McNamara

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