Energy assistance programs for low-income residents

For those in low-income households in need of assistance with energy bills, plenty of state and federally-funded programs are available nationwide to help. These energy assistance programs can make sure your utilities are always available when you need them most. Some programs offer:

  • Credits on your bills to lower or eliminate costs
  • Inspections and improvements to your residence to make it more energy-efficient and save on utility costs
  • Counseling for property budget management
  • Reactivation of your energy services

If you live in California, Illinois, Ohio, Washington, D.C. or Michigan, check out the list below to see what energy assistance programs are available in your state. For more information on assistance in other states, check for details on eligibility requirements and your application.

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California low-income energy assistance programs

The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) in California provides two basic types of services: financial assistance to offset the costs of heating and/or cooling dwellings and weatherization of dwellings to make them more energy efficient for low-income persons.

Types of California LIHEAP:

The Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) provides one-time financial assistance to help offset an eligible household’s energy costs.

The Energy Crisis Intervention Program (ECIP) provides assistance to low-income households that are in a crisis situation. Examples include a household that has received a 24- to 48-hour disconnect notice or service termination by its utility company or a household facing an energy-related crisis of life-threatening emergency in the applicant’s household, including a combustible appliance.

Energy budget counseling and education are also offered on basic energy efficiency practices with instruction on the proper use and maintenance of installed weatherization measures.

LIHEAP Weatherization provides free energy efficiency upgrades like attic insulation and weather stripping to low-income households to decrease monthly utility bills while improving the health and safety of the household’s occupants. Different sites can help you view eligibility requirements, next steps in the application process and program contact information.

Illinois low-income energy assistance programs

For Illinois residents, the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) helps low-income households pay for utilities such as heat, gas, electric, water and sewage. Qualifying for LIHEAP in Illinois can limit deposit charges, eliminate late payment fees and give you more time to pay your deposit.

Types of Illinois LIHEAP:

If you pay your own utilities, Direct Vendor Payment (DVP) can get you assistance in the form of a one-time payment to the utility company. Emergency Services (ES) are given in the event of a weather-related natural disaster or when there is an extreme weather condition. This money is only provided to the extent that funds are available. The amount of the ES payment usually will be the minimum requirement to reconnect the household to utilities. You may only receive an ES grant once during a program year for a particular utility.

Percentage of Income Payment Plan (PIPP) lets clients of Ameren Illinois, ComEd, Nicor Gas and Peoples Gas/North Shore Gas pay a percentage of their income, receive a monthly benefit toward their utility bill and receive a reduction in overdue payments of every on-time payment they make by the due date. The PIPP and LIHEAP application process and qualifications for low-income energy assistance programs are the same.

The Illinois Home Weatherization Assistance Program (IHWAP) is designed to help low-income residents save fuel and money while increasing the comfort of their homes. The mission is to insulate the dwellings of low-income persons, particularly the elderly, persons with disabilities, families with children, high residential energy users and households with a high energy burden in order to conserve energy and aid those that are unable to afford higher utility costs.

Reconnection Assistance is available if your household is disconnected or has a disconnect notice from an energy source needed for heating, or has a delivered fuel supplier that has refused to deliver to you. Furnace Assistance is available if you qualify for reconnection assistance, but do not have an operating furnace or heating supply. Furnace benefits include tune-up, repair or replacement and will be utilized to restore a vital heat supply to the home.

Find out if you qualify for Illinois LIHEAP and associated programs here and how to apply.

Michigan low-income energy assistance programs

Michigan’s Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program also assists low-income families with costs associated with utilities such as heating, cooling, gas and sewage.

Types of Michigan LIHEAP:

The Home Heating Credit is a Michigan tax credit that can assist low- to moderate-income families and individuals with the cost of heating their homes and winter heating bills. The amount of credit is determined based on total household income, the home’s heating costs, the number of exemptions claimed and other factors.

State Emergency Relief is an assistance program that provides limited help to households and families with low income who have an emergency or crisis situation that threatens their health or safety. Services covered by this heating and utility bill assistance program include home heating, electric, gas and utility bills. Call your local community action agency to apply or learn how to get assistance.

The Winter Protection Plan (WPP) protects both seniors and low-income customers of MPSC regulated natural gas and electric companies from shut-offs during the winter season. Eligible residents must be age 65 or older, receive Michigan Department of Health and Human Services cash assistance, receive Food Stamps or Medicaid and have a household income at or below 150% of the poverty level. The WPP allows eligible customers to make monthly payments of at least 7% of their estimated annual bill from November through March, and avoid shut-off during that time even if their bills are higher.

Michigan’s Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) is a federally-funded, low-income residential energy conservation program. The program provides free home energy conservation services to lower utility bills, thus creating more self-sufficient households. A trained inspector will assess eligible dwellings for energy conservation needs. A typical inspection will include testing for air leakage and safety and efficiency. Households that receive weatherization services can expect heating costs to be reduced by 20%-25%. Check out general program requirements and information on the application process.

To learn more about the Michigan LIHEAP call (855) ASK-MICH or visit the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

Ohio low-income energy assistance programs

The Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) is a federally funded one-time benefit applied directly to the eligible recipient’s utility bill or bulk fuel bill. Ohio households with an income at or below 175% of the federal poverty guidelines are eligible for assistance.

Types of Ohio HEAP:

The focus of the Summer Crisis Program is to provide cooling assistance to persons 60 years of age and older or to those with a certified medical condition. The program provides a one-time benefit to eligible Ohioans with bill payment assistance during the summer months.

The Winter Crisis Program helps eligible Ohioans who are threatened with disconnection, have been disconnected or have less than a 25% supply of bulk fuel in their tank maintain their utility service. The Percentage of Income Payment Plan (PIPP) is utility bill assistance for low-income families that helps eligible Ohioans manage their energy bills all year.

Payments are distributed consistently year-round and are based on a percentage of household income. If your home is heated with gas, you will have a monthly payment of 6% of your household income for your natural gas bill, and 6% of your household income for your electric bill. If you heat with electric, your monthly payment is 10% of your household income. The balance of your utility bill is subsidized by the state of Ohio with a minimum monthly payment of $10.

The Electric Partnership Program (EPP) helps eligible Ohioans reduce their electricity usage in their homes. The EPP provider performs in-home audits and installs appropriate electric energy efficiency measures to reduce electricity usage. Customers also receive information on how they can reduce their electric use and improve their home’s efficiency.

The Ohio Energy Credit (OEC) Program is for permanently disabled state residents 65 years of age or older. This program allows qualifying residents to receive an increased Energy Assistance benefit beyond what they would receive under the HEAP energy assistance program.

The Home Weatherization Assistance Program (HWAP) provides eligible Ohioans with weatherization measures to improve the energy efficiency of their homes and reduce their energy costs based on the NEAT computerized energy audit. Ohioans eligible for HWAP will receive a home inspection to identify necessary services. To be eligible for HWAP, households must be at or below 200% of the federal poverty guidelines.

Apply for HEAP and affiliated programs at your local energy assistance provider or by mail. Find out who is eligible and what you’ll need to apply here.

Washington D.C. low-income energy assistance programs

The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) assists District households with heating and cooling energy costs through the Department of Energy & Environment. Eligible households may receive assistance towards their energy bill between $250 and $1,500 as a one-time benefit.  An emergency benefit is available to low-income District residents who are currently disconnected from electric or gas service or have a depleted supply of home heating oil.

Types of Washington, D.C. LIHEAP:

The Weatherization Assistance Program provides technical and financial assistance to help low-income residents reduce their energy bills by making their homes more energy-efficient.  Through an energy audit, the program identifies and installs energy-efficient measures to help families maintain safe and healthy homes while reducing their monthly bills.

Typical weatherization measures may include insulation, duct sealing, heating and cooling systems repairs or replacement, air infiltration mitigation and more. Eligibility is determined by the LIHEAP. District residents may apply for energy assistance through an online application.

For more information on energy assistance programs for low-income households in your area, visit your state’s benefits website to see which programs are offered, eligibility requirements and information on how to apply.