Winter is coming! Fortunately, there's help if your energy bills are heating up as the temperature drops. We've rounded up the various winter assistance programs available to customers in New York and Pennsylvania offered by their utilities and local governments.
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Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP)
HEAP is a federally funded program that assists low-income New Yorkers with their home heating costs, and offers emergency assistance for households in a heat or heat-related energy emergency. It is made up of four specific components: a Regular Benefit, Emergency Benefit, Heating Equipment Repair or Replacement Benefit, and a Cooling Benefit
Eligibility for the Benefits offered as part of the HEAP program depends on income, household size, the primary heating source and the presence of a household member who is under age 6, age 60 or older or permanently disabled. You may be eligible for a Regular benefit if you and your household members are United States Citizens or qualified aliens and your household income falls below the HEAP monthly income limits.
The HEAP program opens on November 16, 2015. To qualify, your total household gross monthly income for your household size must be at or below the following guidelines:
|Household Size||Maximum Gross Monthly Income|
|Each additional||Add $520|
You can find out more about the HEAP Benefit on the New York Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance page, or by calling the ODTA hotline at 1-800-342-3009. You can also find out more information by contacting your local social services department office.
Central Hudson offers the Good Neighbor Fund for low income customers who have exhausted all other forms of public and private assistance and who have received a Final Termination Notice for non-payment. This is a last-resort grant that is administered by The Salvation Army. Call Central Hudson at 845-452-2700 during normal call center hours for more information.
ConEd runs an assistance fund called EnergyShare, which is available for residential customers who receive an active disconnect notice and who are eligible for government financial assistance and/or meet federal HEAP income guidelines. The EnergyShare program is administered by HeartShare Human Services of New York. You can find more information about EnergyShare by calling HeartShare at 1-877-480-7427.
As of November, 2015, Con Edison is offering up to $1,000 in rebates on select high-efficiency heating and cooling equipment. Con Edison customers who live in a 1-4 family home who buy and install certain appliances and equipment to upgrade their heating and cooling are eligible for this rebate. Note that customers must purchase eligible equipment, and have it installed by a licensed contractor, as well as complete, sign and mail the correct rebate form to get the rebate. Call ConEdison at 1-800-430-9505 for more information, or check out ConEdison's page about rebates.
Customers residing within National Fuel's service area (they do not necessarily have to be National Fuel customers) may be eligible for the Neighbor For Neighbor Heat Fund. This is a a first-come, first-served home-heating assistance grant of up to $300 to help pay for heating costs.
Applicants must meet at least one of the following criteria to qualify for a grant:
- Be at least 55 years old
- A member of their household must be handicapped or have a disability that reduces the household's income
- Have a certified medical emergency
- Be receiving unemployment benefit
The program is administered by the Salvation Army and Catholic Charities. Call the Salvation Army at 716-883-9800, extension 230, or Catholic Charities at 716-856-4494 or 716-218-1400 (ask for Parish Outreach) for more information. In Chautauqua County, contact the the Salvation Army at 716-664-4108, Catholic Charities at 716-372-0101, or the Chautauqua County Office For the Aging at 716-753-4471 if aged 60 or over.
National Grid offers a discounted rate to all customers who meet low-income eligibility requirements. All recipients of LIHEAP fuel assistance are automatically enrolled in this benefit. The amount of discount depends on the energy type (electricity or gas), and the region.
Low income customers in Long Island may qualify for United Way of Long Island’s Project Warmth program. This is a one-time grant available for residents facing heating and utility emergencies, who have exhausted or are not eligible for government help through the Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP). Note that the program opens in January and remains active until available funds are exhausted. Call United Way’s 2-1-1 Long Island Information and Referral center by dialing 2-1-1 or 1-888-774-7633 (hours: Monday through Saturday from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm or Sunday from 12:00 to 4:00 pm).
National Grid customers in Metro New York may be eligible for a grant from the Neighborhood Heating Fund if they need help paying their heating bills. This program is available to low-income New York residents and may be accessed in addition to HEAP Benefits. It is administered by HeartShare Human Services of New York. For more information, call 718-422-4207 or 718-422-4228. Note that funds are served on a first-come, first-serve basis.
National Grid offers the Care & Share program for low-income customers in upstate New York. This is an emergency financial assistance available to low income families and individuals who are experiencing difficulty paying heat related bills. It is administered by HeartShare Human Services of New York and is available for households in difficulty that meet the income guidelines of the Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP). Call 1-855-852-2736, or 718-422-4207 or 718-422-4228 for more information.
Low income NYSEG customers may be eligible for a grant from NYSEG's Project SHARE Heating Fund. To be eligible you must have an active account with NYSEG, have active disconnect notice, meet the current HEAP income guideline and must have exhausted all other assistance. Active duty military personnel and well-discharged veterans with an active disconnect notice may qualify regardless of income. This fund is administered by HeartShare Human Services of New York. Call 1-800-599-4327 for more information.
Orange & Rockland
Orange & Rockland offers an emergency home energy assistance fund for low-income customers in New York called the Neighbor Fund. Orange & Rockland customers who have exhausted all governmental resources available for financial assistance and who provide supporting documentation of emergency or crisis circumstances (medical bills, unemployment notification, etc.) may be eligible for this fund. It is administered by the Salvation Army, which evaluates Neighbor Fund applications and makes the grants from October through May each year. For more information, call 845-352-9577, 845-343-0821, or 845-856-3214.
Orange County residents may also be eligible for the Orange County Fuel Fund. This fund opens on November 16, 2015, and is available for Orange County residents who are in need of assistance to help pay a portion of their home heating expenses but do not qualify for the Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP). Grant amounts depend on the type of heating fuel used and may range from $800 to $1000. Grants are provided on a first-come, first-served basis. It is administered by United Way. Call 845-457-4774 EXT 3112 for more information.
PSEG Long Island
Customers who are already receiving assistance from HEAP are also eligible for a discounted rate with PSEG Long Island, and in most cases will be enrolled automatically. Low income customers in PSEG Long Island's service territory who need emergency assistance with their heating bills may be eligible for a grant under PSEG Long Island's Project Warmth plan. This emergency assistance plan is administered by the United Way, and makes available one-time grants for fuel. You may be eligible if you are a resident of Nassau or Suffolk County or the Rockaways, you have demonstrated financial hardship and provided an acceptable explanation for the arrears, you have already applied for HEAP (if eligible), and you did not top off your oil tank during the 2012-2013 heating season. Call 211 or 888-774-7633 for more information.
Rochester Gas & Electric
Low income customers may be eligible for a grant from Rochester Gas & Electric's Project SHARE Heating Fund. To be eligible you must have an active account with RG&E, have active disconnect notice, meet the current HEAP income guideline and must have exhausted all other assistance. Active duty military personnel and well-discharged veterans with an active disconnect notice may qualify regardless of income. This fund is administered by HeartShare Human Services of New York. Call 1-800-599-4327 for more information.
Low Income Heat Energy Assistance Program
LIHEAP is a federally funded grant program that helps low income households with their heating bills. The program is administered by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania through its network of local county assistance offices. The program started on November 2nd, 2015, and runs until April 1, 2016, or until funds run out. It consists of two types of grants: a cash grant paid directly to the utility, and a crisis grant to help avoid shut-off. Eligibility for LIHEAP is based on income:
|Household Size||Maximum Income|
Add $6,240 for each additional person
LIHEAP grants may be used to pay an electric bill even if electricity is not the main source of heat. For more information, contact your local county office, or call 1-866-857-7095.
Duquesne Lighting Company
Low income customers may be eligible for Duquesne Lighting Co.'s Dollar Energy Fund if they are facing impending disconnection. Check online to see if you apply. Duquesne Lighting Co. also offers the Customer Assistance and Referral Evaluation Services program (CARES), which offers assistance for customers experiencing a temporary hardship that makes paying their bills difficult. Call 1-888-393-7600 for more information. Low income customers may also qualify for the Home Weatherization Program, which offers free help from experts with weatherization projects. Find more information online.
PECO offers reduced rates to customers who qualify for LIHEAP. Call 1-800-774-7040 for more information. Low income customers may also be eligible for the CARES (Customer Assistance and Referral Evaluation Services) program, which offers assistance to customers with temporary financial difficulties that prevent them from paying their bills. Finally, PECO also provides the Matching Energy Assistance Fund (MEAF), which assists low-income residential customers make bill payments. Call 1-800-774-7040 for more information.
PECO offers numerous rebates for energy efficiency upgrades, including appliance recycling, energy efficient appliance upgrades, and a home energy audit performed by PECO. You must be a PECO electric customer to be eligible for these rebates, and certain other conditions may apply. Check out PECO's page on rebates for more information, or call 1-888-573-2672 to schedule a PECO Smart House Call.
Pike County Light & Power Company
Pike County Light & Power Co. offers an emergency home energy assistance fund for low-income customers in its service territory called the Neighbor Fund. PCL&P customers who have exhausted all governmental resources available for financial assistance and who provide supporting documentation of emergency or crisis circumstances (medical bills, unemployment notification, etc.) may be eligible for this fund.
PPL Electric Utilities
PPL Electric Utilities offers emergency financial assistance for heating bills for families experiencing financial hardships through its Operation Help grants. The program is administered by local agencies. Low income customers may also be eligible for the Customer Assistance and Referral Evaluation Services (CARES) program, which also offers temporary financial assistance to customers experiencing difficulty making bill payments. Finally, PPL Electric Utilities also offers a Winter Relief Assistance Program (WRAP), which provides energy efficiency education and rebates for weatherization and energy efficiency upgrades to low income families. Find out more and apply online.
West Penn Power
Low income customers in West Penn Power's service area who need temporary assistance with their energy bills may be eligible for the Dollar Energy Fund. For more information, call 1-800-683-7036. Some customers may also be eligible for the Customer Assistance & Referral Evaluation Services Program (CARES), which provides assistance on a short-term basis to payment-troubled residential customers. Call 1-800-207-1250 for more information.