Being behind on your electric or heating bill is never fun. But in the winter months this can be even more stressful. With temperatures dropping its important to get help now. Luckily there are a few things you can do with your utility company. There are also some federal programs that could provide assistance.
Here’s what you should do if you need help paying your electric bills…
Need Help Paying Electric Bill:
Contact Your Utility Service:
If you’re facing the disconnection of your utility services then the first thing you should do is try contacting your utility company directly. Many utility companies will work with you or refer you to local organizations that provide help paying bills.
When calling remember to be polite. You’re more likely to receive assistance this way. Ask the operator about payment extensions, payment assistance or payments plans for your electric/heating bills. They may not be able to do anything, but this is the first place to ask.
Debt Relief Programs:
When you speak to your utility they may forward you to a local community agency. These agencies may assist you with assistance if you qualify. They can help you reduce your monthly bills and possibly reduce or eliminate your previous utility debt. Ask about these types of programs when you call.
Apply for the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP):
The WAP program focuses on helping low income customers reduce their energy use and therefore lower their electric/heating bills. Qualification is based on your income level as well as a home energy audit. Depending on the outcome of the home energy audit your could receive services like:
- Energy saving LED lights
- Replacements for old inefficient refrigerators, air conditioners and water heaters
- Attic and wall insulation
- Duct insulation
- New door trim
- New foam insulation
All these upgrades are done for free by a local contractor. To find out if you qualify you can check your income. The maximum income level starts at $23,340 for a single person and increases by $8,120 for each additional family memeber. So the income threshold for a family of four would be $47,700.
Apply for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program LiHEAP:
There are also federal programs like LiHEAP that can help with electric and heating bills for people with low income. LiHEAP stands for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program. LiHEAP is administered by your local office of community services. Find your local office.
Although local income limits may vary, the current federal low income limit starts at $17,505 for a single person and increases by $6,090 for each additional member of the household. So a family of four will qualify if their income is below $35,775 annually. For the latest info and to find out if you qualify for the home energy assistance program you can visit the benefits.gov site.
LiHEAP Application Requirements:
- Valid photo ID
- Social security numbers and birth dates for ALL household members
- Proof for all income received by the household (copies of pay stubs, award letters, loans, etc.)
- A copy of the most recent heating bill showing company name, address, and account numbers
- A copy of the most recent rent receipt (if heating costs are included in rent.) The rent receipt must clearly show heat is included.
Need Help Paying Electric Bill:
After reading this post I hope you’re able to find the help you need. If not then don’t lose hope. Make sure to reach out to other government agencies who may be able to provide assistance in other ways. Check out our other posts…
There are also local food banks who will provide food packages and sometimes give small cash gifts around the holidays.
Photo by Evan Blaser via Flickr