Wisconsin Home Energy Assistance Program and weatherization services.
Programs offered in Wisconsin can help with paying heating bills. The main resources include the Home Energy Assistance Program (or WHEAP), weatherization which is for improving a home's energy efficiency, emergency furnace repairs, or cash grants for dealing with a crisis. All are partly or mostly paid for by the federal government as part of LIHEAP, and are administered in the state by the Division of Energy Services.
These are the main resources that are provided through private non-profit community action agencies, government organizations, county social services offices, or tribal governments. While the exact amount and type of any heating assistance benefit paid out depends on a number of factors, such as income, household’s size, and type of fuel, the fact is that tens of thousands of lower income families in Wisconsin receive help from WHEAP or weatherization every year.
In addition to the resources above that offer regular heating and electric bill assistance, other options are offered such as payment plans, targeted outreach services, the Public Benefits Energy Assistance Program and counseling.
WHEAP heating and utility bill assistance
- Crisis Assistance – Qualified families with no heat, who are nearly out of fuel, who have received a disconnect notice, and/or who do not have money or assets available can apply for emergency financial assistance from WHEAP. Proactive non-emergency assistance is also available throughout the year to try to help people avoid these future emergencies. Many local community action agencies or social service offices also provide a 24-hour statewide crisis phone number that people can call for information and services.
- Furnace assistance such as replacement or repairs – The state of Wisconsin can help eligible low income home owners if the boiler or furnace stops operating during cold winter, spring, or fall seasons. Heating system programs generally include cash payment and grants for repairs. If a limited number of situations, certain low income people may qualify for the total replacement of a furnace or boiler, so the Wisconsin Home Energy Assistance Program will actually pay for this.
- General heating bill assistance is offered for most types of fuel. Whether someone uses wood, propane, natural gas, fuel oil, or electricity to heat their home, grants are available if you qualify. Help is offered in the form of a one-time payment, and the money pays for only a limited portion of the applicants heating costs. The exact amount of the heating bill assistance will vary based on program terms.
- Information and counseling – These are considered more proactive solutions, and include tips on how to enter into co-pay agreements, budgeting and money management counseling, information on how to reduce fuel costs, and suggestions on coordinating payments to a fuel supplier.
- Electric Assistance - This can cover other types of utilities, and is offered from Wisconsin’s Public Benefits. It pays for a portion of electrical and so called non-heating costs.
Some other general information about WHEAP includes you do not have to pay the money back (so it is not a loan), any money paid out is not intended to cover the entire cost of your home heating bills, and the grant money may also be sent directly to your utility company or fuel supplier. Clients still need to pay a portion of their expenses.
The second option for residents is the Wisconsin Weatherization Assistance Program. Energy conservation techniques are used in order to reduce the cost of home energy expenses. After all, improving your home's energy efficiency can make a big difference in helping people save money. In addition, it will correct and try to address health and safety hazards and potentially life-threatening conditions.
The Division of Energy Services oversees this service too, and they contract with various non-profit agencies across the state in order to provide weatherization and energy conservation services to qualified low income and elderly households. These various agencies usually include local governments, community action agencies, and public housing authorities.
Assistance is targeted at households with an excessive energy burden or utility bill, and especially those homes with elderly, handicapped, senior citizens and/or children less than 6 years of age. Ideally weatherization will make your home warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer.
After applying, if you are found to be eligible for weatherization you will be referred to a local non-profit agency. Representatives from the agency will then make arrangements to have an energy auditor stop by and review your home. The exact type of improvements will vary with each home depending on how it was built, its age and its overall condition. The most common free improvements include repair or replacement of your furnace, insulation of attics, walls and floors, test and/or replace refrigerator, Install energy efficient lighting, and replacement of your water heater.
The Wisconsin Division of Energy Services provides qualified lower income residential households with energy bill assistance from WHEAP and weatherization needs. Call 1-866-432-8947.