Electricity, heat, hot water, gas. utilities are essential for everyday life. Without them, you wouldn’t be able to see when the sun goes down, take hot showers, store food, prepare meals, and stay warm when the temperature drops.
Unfortunately, however, it doesn’t seem like the utility companies care much about the absolute need for the services that they offer. The cost of keeping the electric – and every other power source – turned on seems to be rising at a rapid rate.
High utility bills cost
The increasing cost of utilities, along with virtually every other essential in the United States has made it increasingly difficult for the average person to keep their power on. It’s hard enough for individuals who are working full-time jobs to afford the high costs of their utility bills; for those who are working mediocre jobs or who are unemployed for one reason or another often have to go without these crucial services.
If you are having a hard time paying your utility bills, take comfort in knowing that you may be able to find the financial assistance you need to keep the power turned on. How? – With utility grants.
What are Utility Grants?
Grants are funds that are set aside by the federal government, state governments, non-profit organizations, and other entities to provide assistance to those who are in need. Utility grants, as the name suggest, are funds that are specifically reserved to help those who are struggling to pay their power bills.
The federal government, as well as local state agencies, offer grants in the form of financial relief or other assistance programs that can be used to help cover the cost of electricity, oil, gas, and other utility payments.
How to Get Assistance for Your Utility Bills
If you are having a hard time making ends meet and cannot keep up with the cost of your power bills, the first thing you should do is contact your utility provider.
Several utility services work directly with government agencies to assist with the implementation of programs that are designed to help low-income individuals and their families by paying their bills. When your bills have started piling up and you are unable to pay them, reach out to your provider to avoid having your power shut off.
How to make it easier?
Many electric and other utility companies will work with you to set up a payment plan; for example, they may divide your bill over a 12-month period so that it is split into an equal amount over the course of a year.
By doing so, you will know precisely how much you are going to owe each month, which will allow you to allocate funds accordingly. Additionally, you can reach out to the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUG), a government program that provides financial assistance for utility payments.
1. Emergency Help for Overdue Utility Payments
The federal government, as well as state and local agencies, offer programs that can assist low-income earners with paying for the essential items that they need, such as food, clothing, and housing; they offer assistance for utility bills, too. Additionally, there are several non-profit organizations and other community programs that provide assistance for essentials, such as power.
These agencies are dedicated to providing emergency support to those who are struggling financially and cannot afford to pay for the basics, such as electricity, oil, and gas. Help is offered in the form of monetary grants, which are awarded on an income basis. As long as the funds are available to provide help and you can demonstrate that you need assistance, you can receive free money to help you cover a part of your utility bills so that your power will remain or, if your power has been turned off, so that it can be restored.
When can I apply?
If you need help covering the cost of your entire past-due bills, you may need to work with more than one organization that provides financial assistance to get the full amount owed. It’s important to note, however, that funding may not always be available.
This is especially true during certain times of the year, such as the winter, when many people, like you, are also struggling to pay their power bills and are also in need of assistance; during these times, funding may run out. Furthermore, you have to prove that you are eligible for assistance.
2. The Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)
LIHEAP is a grant program that offers low-income individuals and their families with assistance for their utility payments. This grant is only available to qualified applicants one time, and that funding will go directly toward power bills.
In order to qualify, your annual income must be a certain percentage below the federal poverty level. Funds that are approved through this program are distributed in checks. They are sent out during the first week of the new year and are made out to the qualifying applicant.
With this grant funding, if you have outstanding utility bills, you may be able to pay off the balance so that you can start the beginning of the year with a clean slate.
3. Home Weatherization Grants
Home repair grants are available for homeowners who need to make repairs to their properties. This federally sponsored program offers funding to improve the safety and energy efficiency of a property. For example, the funding that is provided by Home Weatherization grants can be used to repair:
- Damaged roofing
- Mold remediation
- Septic tank repairs
- Insulation replacement
- Furnace repairs and replacements
Those who are receiving federal assistance, such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) are automatically eligible for the Home Weatherization Grant. If you aren’t receiving other forms of assistance and you want to find out if you qualify, contact the government to learn more.
Power is essential for your safety and well-being; unfortunately, however, keeping the power turned on is something that many Americans struggle with. If you are one of the millions who cannot pay your utility bills, there are options available that may be able to provide you with the assistance you need.