As you are undoubtedly all too aware of by now, energy costs are rising with inflation, and the coming winter looks to be a harsh one for your bank account. Money-saving energy hacks are good and all, but what your family may really need is a little extra help. President Biden’s administration has announced a plan to provide more than $13 billion to help Americans lower their energy costs, and you should definitely take advantage of it if you’re eligible.
Here’s how to know if you qualify for the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), and what to do to claim those funds.
What’s LIHEAP all about?
The administration is providing $4.5 billion to help lower the winter energy costs for low-income families this year, per a fact sheet distributed this week. The federal program is administered on a state-by-state basis, so the first thing you need to do to apply is find your local office on this list.
In addition to helping with heating and cooling bills, LIHEAP helps pay for weatherization, which will help you improve your home’s overall energy efficiency.
The program isn’t new—per the administration, it has helped over 5.3 million households in the last year—but is getting an extra boost from the administration as we face down a particularly pricy winter season.
What else can you get?
Another $9 billion of the money is going to states and Tribal governments for new home efficiency programs under the Inflation Reduction Act. Up to 1.6 million households can get support paying for upgrades; the program calls for the installation of up to 500,000 heat pumps and other “deep building retrofits through insulation and electrical wiring.”
According to the government, around 700,000 homes will also be weatherized under the expanded Weatherization Assistance Program, which falls under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. If this sounds like wonky politics to you, here’s what you need to know: Big states—namely Texas and California—are getting a lot of the money, and the rebates and other funding should be available in 2023.
According to CBS News, to prepare for the rebate program’s roll out, talk to contractors now about your current heating and cooling system and determine whether you need an upgrade. The rebates are significant enough that your eventual upgrade, if necessary, could be drastically cheaper.
How to apply for energy assistance through LIHEAP
Head to that list of state offices and find your state. When you click it, you’ll be able to determine the requirements necessary in your area to qualify. In New York, for instance, the income eligibility level for LIHEAP is 60% of the state median income or 150% of the federal poverty level for households over 11 people. You’ll also find the application link and contact information for local offices you can reach out to with questions.
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