If you struggle to pay for heating or cooling in your home, you may be able to receive financial assistance from the federal and state government through one of their energy assistance programs. The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, also known as LIHEAP, helps families in need pay for their energy bills so their homes can maintain a comfortable and safe temperature as seasons change.
Like other financial assistance programs, the LIHEAP program has certain requirements regarding your income level and household size. The program is meant to help families and individuals who have little income to spend on rising and fluctuating energy costs, especially if the home they live in has efficiency issues. Keep reading to learn more about what kinds of assistance the LIHEAP program can provide.
The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) is a federal assistance program that helps low-income families afford the energy costs for heating and cooling their home. The LIHEAP program also assists these households in paying to weatherize their homes and make repairs that improve energy usage, thus helping to reduce energy costs.
Every year, states, U.S. territories and tribes are provided a certain amount of LIHEAP funds, ranging from a few million dollars to more than $100 million. They then allocate portions of those funds for each type of LIHEAP services they provide and disperse those funds on an as-needed basis throughout the year and during times of weather-related crisis.
The program is specially designed to serve low-income households that spend a high portion of their income on energy costs due to increased energy rates in their area. Through this program, states, territories provide many different types of assistance to low-income families, including:
- Emergency heating assistance in the winter
- Emergency cooling assistance in the summer
- Standard utility assistance
- Weatherization assistance
In most cases, if you qualify for the program, your local agency won’t pay you any money directly. Instead, it makes the payment to your energy provider on your behalf, such as the gas company. LIHEAP benefits do not usually cover your entire bill; you’ll be responsible for paying the remaining amount.
LIHEAP only provides assistance in paying for your main energy source for heating or cooling. For example, if your heating system runs on gas, you might get help paying for gas but not your electricity.
You can, however, get electric for low-income families assistance if your heating or cooling system runs on electricity. In addition, LIHEAP does not help pay for water or sewage bills. The only exception is if an A/C system requires water to produce cooling.