LIHEAP, the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, provides support to families who need help affording their energy bills each month. Whether households live in temperate, subtropical or colder climates, heating and cooling expenses can regularly subtract from their budgets. As a result, this national energy assistance program works to make energy expenses more economical for low-income families across the country. This program receives its funding through the federal government, and households who live in U.S. states, territories and tribes may be eligible to receive assistance through LIHEAP. However, each state is responsible for establishing its own enrollment guidelines and for allocating benefits to different families.
Regardless of where candidates live, they may want to know how to save electricity so they can reduce their spending for these utility services. In addition to enrolling in LIHEAP, there are various ways that households can cut their energy expenses every day. To assist these individuals with limited income to spend on utilities, the following sections explain how the LIHEAP home energy assistance program works and how claimants can apply. Additionally, there are helpful money-saving tips discussed below for families who either do not qualify for the federal program or who are interested in simply reducing their monthly spending.
How can LIHEAP help me?
LIHEAP provides government support to low-earning households who need help affording their home energy expenses on a regular basis. Generally, these funds are available to families who need help with:
- Energy bills associated with cooling or heating homes.
- Weatherization efforts, which consist of minor repairs that can increase the energy efficiency of houses.
- Various energy emergencies and crises.
Therefore, enrollees need to remember that are only be eligible to receive funding that they can use toward their primary heating sources, such as electricity or gas. However, families who use their benefits for weatherization purposes are likely to increase the insulation of their homes, which can save them money over time. Leaky windows or improperly sealed doors let out heat and let in cold air, depending on the season, which can cause heaters or air conditioners to work overtime. As a result, families pay more for these services. Through the LIHEAP program, though, households can use these federal benefits to save them money over time.
Learn About LIHEAP Requirements
LIHEAP funds are distributed to individual grantees throughout the country. Therefore, home energy assistance program officials are in charge of deciding which requirements applicants need to meet to qualify for enrollment. In order for candidates to know for sure if they apply for funds, they should contact their community LIHEAP office to learn about their area’s specific prerequisites. However, there are some eligibility requirements that are commonly used to determine if potential applicants qualify to receive funding through this initiative.
For example, some regions automatically extend LIHEAP eligibility to families who receive certain public benefits. Depending on the area, households may be preapproved to enroll in the program if they collect funding through:
- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
- Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF).
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
- Specific veterans’ assistance programs.
Furthermore, families also need to be aware that there are certain LIHEAP income guidelines that they need to meet in order to enroll in this program. Again, grantees establish these limits, so applicants should speak with their local officials to learn these exact requirements. Candidates must also remember that these funds are limited, and not everyone who is qualified to receive benefits will. A waitlist is usually in place to prioritize eligible households. However, priority is usually given to families who meet the requirements mentioned above and who also have the following members living in their households:
- Elderly people
- Disabled individuals
How to Submit a LIHEAP Application
To obtain a LIHEAP application, petitioners need to contact their program offices. There are state-specific applications that candidates need to complete, depending on where they live. Applicants also need to remember that there are different ways that these materials may be available to them. For example, some states may only allow citizens to apply for LIHEAP if they fill out paper applications directly through their program offices. Alternatively, some states may allow candidates to download an energy assistance application from their state websites. Finally, petitioners in some parts of the country may have the option of submitting a LIHEAP application online through a secure site. However, these options are not available in all states, and candidates should review their specific location’s program procedures before they attempt to apply for enrollment.
Energy Saving Tips for Families
Program applicants may find there are no available LIHEAP funds or that did not meet the program’s enrollment requirements. However, there are other ways families can reduce their energy bills. Depending on families’ budgets, households wondering how to save on electric bills may consider the following:
- Switching to energy saving light bulbs: There are various cost-efficient light bulbs that families can buy in order to conserve the amount of electricity they use on a regular basis. Specifically, households may consider investing in compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) or light-emitting diode bulbs (LEDs) to reduce their spending on electricity each month.
- Using less hot water: Hot water is more expensive to use than cold water. Regardless of whether families use gas or electricity to power their homes, it costs money to heat water. A cheap way for families to reduce their energy bills is to use less hot water on a regular basis.
- Installing energy efficient windows: Families can complete this task even without LIHEAP While this is a costlier investment than other options, families who invest in these windows can reduce their annual spending on heating and cooling bills. There is much energy lost each month due to inefficient windows in homes.