Energy Assistance : Texas Help with the Electric Bill
With recent unemployment numbers at historic highs and many people spending more time at home, paying for utility bills (and understanding all the details) is becoming increasingly difficult. Fortunately, there are several utility assistance programs at the government, local, and non-profit levels to financially assist with energy bills for those in need. Continue reading to find out who provides energy assistance in programs like LIHEAP, CEAP, WAP (Weatherization Assistance Program), and 211 as well are the eligibility requirements and contact information to file an application for each program.
LIHEAP : The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program
If it is becoming more and more difficult to make monthly energy bill payments, it's worth the time to look into the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program or LIHEAP. The program's main goal is to assist with energy costs so that families stay safe and healthy. They provide federally funded assistance in making costs manageable for:
- Home energy bills
- Low-cost improvements for weatherization and minor home repairs (related to energy)
- Energy crisis, such as a utility disconnection
Apart from LIHEAP's federal financial help, they also have programs aimed at staying warm in the winter and cool in the summer through health & safety risk reduction (dangers stemming from unsafe heating and cooling practices).
Each year, the LIHEAP covers all 50 states, D.C., the five U.S. territories, and over 150 tribes and tribal organizations. In 2017 alone, it is estimated that 5.4 million households received assistance with heating costs through the program. As of October 2020, the U.S. Congress is working with the US HHS to release the secured $3.7 billion in LIHEAP funds for FY 2020.
LIHEAP is not intended to cover all costs relating to utility expenses. LIHEAP can help by targeting the utility that sends the heating or cooling bill to your home and provide financial assistance toward that expense. It is also important to note that the annual deadline to file for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program is Sept 1st.
Like to know more about LIHEAP? For more info, visit LIHEAP's FAQs - it actually has a lot of helpful insight!
To be eligible for LIHEAP, it comes to where the highest required energy use meets lowest income generated and particularly aimed at households with members who are elderly, disabled, and/or a young child. The eligibility-capping standards, which refer to the Federal Poverty Guidelines, are specified as follows:
- Income less than the larger amount: 150% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines (FPG) or 60% of the State Median Income
- No less than 110 percent of FPG
- They must also give higher benefits to households with the greatest home energy need in relation to household income and number of household members.
For a Texan household of 3, this would set the LIHEAP Target Population as having an annual income of no less than $23,892 and no more than $35,720.
2020 Federal Poverty Guidelines The poverty line is at $12,760 for 1 person and an additional $4,480 for each household member.
Under this definition, the poverty guideline would set a household of 3 people at $21,720 in annual income.
How to get the financial assistance from the LIHEAP
To start, chances of getting assistance from the LIHEAP are limited to approximately 20% of those who are eligible since it depends on the funding total and its availability.
In preparing to apply, you may need the following ready:
- Proof of U.S. citizenship / permanent residence
- Social Security cards (or numbers) for all individuals living in your household
- Documentation showing income from Social Security, Unemployment Insurance, Pension Funds, disability, etc.
- Proof of current address (rent receipt, lease or deed, property tax bill)
- Proof of total members living in your household (birth certificates, school records, etc.)
- Recent copies of your utility bills
- A recent payroll stub or other proof showing your current gross income
- If you've received a shut-off notice from your energy company, then the Final Utility Termination Notice
How to submit an LIHEAP application or get more information on the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program
You can contact a specific State's LIHEAP office, or call LIHEAP.
Contact LIHEAP: Phone: (202) 401 9351
Moreover, you can call the NEAR project (National Energy Assistance Referral) which is a free service that provides information on where you can apply for LIHEAP.
|☎️ Call toll-free at 1 866 674 6327||Mon-Fri, 7AM-5PM (Mountain Time)|
|☎️ For the hearing impaired, call the TTY toll-free number 1 866 367 6228||Mon-Fri, 7AM-5PM (Mountain Time)|
|💻 Send them an email at: [email protected]||Please include your city, county and state in your email message|
Which government benefits could you be eligible for?See what benefits you may qualify for today! The Benefit Finder is hosted by official U.S. government website Benefits.Gov and is a questionnaire to see if you meet any program's eligibility requirements.
Texas HHS : Local assistance programs
The Texas Department of Health and Human Services is the top resource to turn to when trying to find additional assistance. With headquarters in Austin, eligibility offices in the Rio Grande Valley, and labs in the Texas Panhandle, the Texas HHS mission is to make a difference in the lives of Texans by improving health, safety, and well-being with good stewardship of public resources.
Providing more than just help with utility expenses, the most well-known assistance programs the Texas HHS oversees includes:
The Temportary Assistance for Needy Families, or TANF, is designed to promote family self-sufficiency through reducing out-of-wedlock pregnancies, encouraging two-parent families/marriage, child-care resource assistance, job preparation, and work.
Medicaid has been around since it was signed into law in 1965 and it allows health coverage to be provided for low-income persons. Medicaid covers all U.S. states, territories, and D.C. but can vary on coverage from state to state since each state administers the program differently.
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, is the present day Food Stamp program. SNAP provides needy families with nutrition benefits to supplement food expenses to promote consumption of healthy food and self-sufficiency.
To see if eligibility requirements are met and receive assistance in the TANF, Medicaid, or SNAP (foodstamps) benefits (in cash, health care, and/or food), take advantage of the information provided on the YourTexasBenefits website.
Important! After applying, a YourTexasBenefits representative will be in contact for an interview from phone number 1-737-867-7700. It is highly recommended to save this number in your contact list immediately after submitting an application because this call must not be missed!
Texas LITE UP application and program
LITE-UP Texas used to provide discounts to low-income families. Unfortunately, the LITE UP Texas program and application are not in use today. The program, which supported around 700,000 families in 2015, had reportedly run out of money in 2016 after Texas lawmakers declined to continue its funding.
Since 2017, Retail Electric Providers (REPs) may be able to provide a benefit or assistance to customers that currently have a low income. To be eligible for benefits:
- you must be in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
- OR enrolled in and receiving Medicaid benefits
- AND the name of the program participant must be the same as the name on the electric bill
Texas CEAP : Comprehensive Energy Assistance Program
The Comprehensive Energy Assistance Program or CEAP helps low income elderly and/or disabled households with utility assistance. CEAP educates consumers on energy use, control, and costs and by provides financial assistance with up to six or eight of the highest energy bills during the year (depending consideration as a vulnerable household).
Automatic eligibility in CEAP is possible if you (or a family member) participate in other assistance programs like SNAP, TANF, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), or specific needs-focused Veterans benefits.
If you or a familiy member are not enrolled in SNAP, TANF, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), or any Veterans benefits program, to be eligible for the CEAP:
- You must be a Texas resident
- You must have an annual household income (before taxes) that is below:
|Number in Household||Max Annual Income (before taxes)|
|More than 8||add $6,720 per additional member|
Application for CEAP
To apply for the CEAP you can use the toll-free number 1-877-399-8939 between 8AM and 5PM (Mon-Fri) to speak with the CEAP service provider in your county. You can also apply by visiting the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs website and selecting the option "Utility Bill Payment Help".
If you have any concerns or would like to speak to a state representative about the program, contact the Community Affairs Division of the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs at 1-512-475-3800 or by email at: [email protected]. You may also write to the Texas Dept of Housing & Community Affairs at 221 East 11th Street, Austin, TX 78701.
Energy assistance for victims of family violence
Victims of domestic violence can have their electric service deposit waived. In order to qualify, you have to provide a Texas Council on Family Violence deposit waiver certification letter. This letter must then be submitted (by toll-free fax) directly to your electricity provider, who will review your deposit waiver solicitation.
The Texas Council on Family Violence provides a copy of the deposit waiver certification letter, which must be completed by one of the following:
- family violence center personnel
- treating medical personnel
- law enforcement personnel
- Office of Texas District Attorney or County Attorney
- Office of the Attorney General
- A Grantee of the Texas Equal Access to Justice Foundation
WAP : Weatherization Assistance Program & eligibility
The Texas Dept of Housing & Community Affairs Weatherization Assistance Program offers an energy audit (aka home efficiency review) and installation of certain weatherization measures to improve your home's energy efficiency.
For a household to qualify, the income is required to be equal to or below 2x the federal poverty guidelines and the home structure must be able to benefit from weatherization improvements. The table below shows the current income requirement:
|People in Household||2020 Poverty Guideline||WAP requirement, at or below:|
|More than 8||Add $4,480 per additional member||Multiply result by 2|
- Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) target recipients
- Households with the highest energy costs & lowest income
- Elderly residents
- Disabled persons
- Families with children under the age of six
For more info on the Weatherization Assistance Program, please contact your current electric provider and/or visit the website dedicated to the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs' Weatherization Program
Support from non profit organizations : 211 Texas
Many families may be unaware, but there are many non profit organizations spread across Texas that offer energy bill assistance to those in need and eligibe. The most predominant resource for Texans who are looking for additional help and to get connected to the services they require is by calling 211. They are able to help with any local resource available to residents with needs that include: food or housing, child care, crisis counseling, or substance abuse treatment
2-1-1 Texas is a Texas HHSC program that provides Texans with information on state and local health and human services programs in an orderly and efficient way.
211 Texas : Contact
Apart from their presence in 25 Area Information Centers within Texas, the 211 Texas hotline - a free and anonymous service- is able to assist from any part of the state and 24/7 everyday of the year. Dialing 211 is the more obvious way to contact the organization, but they may also be reached at the following.
|☎️ Call toll-free at 1 877 541 7905|
|✉️ 2-1-1 Texas I&R Network P.O. Box 149347, MC 2077 Austin, TX 78714|
Select the 2-1-1 provided options when calling for:
- Info on area services: call 211 or 1-877-541-7905 > select language > press 1
- Info on state benefits: call 211 > select language > press 2 or visit YourTexasBenefits
- Reporting abuse, fraud, and waste: call 211 > select language > press 3 or visit the Inspector General's Office
- Registering with the STEAR (State of Texas Emergency Assistance Registry): call 211 > select language > press 4 or visit the STEAR website