In 2012, Americans overall spent less on home energy bills than they had in a decade. However, the neediest and most vulnerable still spend about twice as much of their income on energy bills as the rest of the population.
In 1981, Congress created the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) and funds it annually through appropriations. In the last several years, budget cuts have affected this program.
This year’s Sequestration cut the program by about $175 million in funding nationally. Even with the cuts, LIHEAP will be able to help thousands of people cool their homes this summer. Low-income families often cut back on other necessities to pay their energy bills.
The Associated Press has reported that in Missouri LIHEAP provided 147,003 houses with financial assistance for heating and 31,242 homes with cooling assistance in 2012. In Missouri, the average benefit was $199.
LIHEAP offers assistance with cooling bills from now through September 30. Beginning on October 1, seniors and the disabled may apply for heating assistance, while all others can apply for heating assistance from November 1-March 31.
There is year-round crisis assistance as well. This year the state initially was given about $64,280,363 for LIHEAP funding.
Click here for heating or cooling assistance forms.
Weatherization is also key in keeping heating and cooling costs low. There are programs that will assist with weatherization, as it will help save the consumer more money in the long run by having more heating and cooling efficiency.
Click here to visit the LIHEAP Action Center for Missouri.