As the home heating season approaches, the Iowa Utilities Board reminds eligible Iowa households that the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program and associated Home Weatherization Program protect against energy utility service disconnection and can help reduce residential heating costs this winter.
The latest energy and winter fuel outlook from the U.S. Energy Information Administration projects higher average household natural gas and electric heating costs. The LIHEAP program provides low-income consumers with limited financial assistance to cover a portion of their winter heating expenditures. The related weatherization program offers long-term financial relief to households by improving energy efficiency, educating consumers about energy use, and providing methods to reduce consumption.
Iowa law requires that both programs protect a qualified household from natural gas or electric service disconnection from Nov. 1 through April 1 during the annual winter disconnection moratorium. However, the board urges all LIHEAP or Weatherization certified customers to continue paying toward their utility bills through the winter to avoid debt accumulation and potential service disconnection in the spring.
Customers not certified for LIHEAP or Weatherization may receive a 30-day stay from disconnection during the moratorium by notifying the utility that they will be applying for either of the energy assistance programs. However, those customers must apply or be subject to disconnection. Customers who do not qualify for Weatherization or LIHEAP may be disconnected for failure to pay utility bills during the winter moratorium timeframe.
Heating assistance funds are limited, so LIHEAP applications will be accepted from households on a first come/first served basis at their local Community Action Agency (CAA) from Nov. 1 through April 30, 2014. Households with disabled or elderly persons 60-plus years of age were allowed to apply for pre-certification starting on Oct. 1. Consumers without computer access may inquire with their local utility or the Iowa Utilities Board Customer Service Section toll-free at 1-877-565-4450 to locate the nearest CAA.
For eligibility requirements, visit the Iowa Department of Human Rights, which administers both programs or call 515-281-0859.