Seasonal extremes can cause your light bill to skyrocket. Heat waves and cold snaps can increase energy usage dramatically. When bills increase beyond what you can afford, you risk disconnection unless you can successfully obtain electric bill assistance.
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Chronic non-payment of electric bills may disqualify you from immediate assistance. If you have not sought assistance within the past year and believe you meet the definition of low income, then you may be eligible for cash assistance to be used towards bringing your electric bill current again. The Federal Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) provides additional support for community programs beyond the donations and funding already provided by utility companies.
Repeat applicants are not automatically declined for help. There may however be mandatory consumer education classes and other requirements that must be met prior to becoming eligible for additional assistance.
Electric bill assistance is typically provided through one of the following channels:
- Social Services: Your county’s department of human or social services may administer a program that provides help with electric bills. You would need to contact them directly to begin the application process.
- Nonprofit Organization: Regional or local charities often have programs that provide counseling and cash assistance towards electric bills. Many are supported by donations or by direct financial support from local governments or the United Way.
- Church: Churches are one of the leading providers of electrical bill help. These programs tend to be less formal than others and they may take a religious approach to budgeting.
- Electrical Utility: Some funds are typically set aside as a part of the utility’s community impact program.
Most electric utility companies will work with you to some degree when you are delinquent on your electric bills. You can generally expect your provider to disconnect your electricity when you are 90 days late or sooner.
They will often work with you if you contact them and work out a plan to bring your account current again. Their primary goal will be to keep your account less than 60 days delinquent. After all, they are on the hook for the power that you use if you are unable to pay.
Electric companies also offer additional programs that many homeowners may be unaware of. Sometimes they provide incentives such as discounted bills or even programs to help you improve the efficiency of your home. Contact your electric company to find out more about what programs are available to help you increase your energy efficiency and thereby reduce future electric bills.