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Get Plugged Into Energy Resources for Seniors in the Southwest

Many of us take energy for granted when there’s a steady supply and we don’t have difficulty paying for it. Unfortunately, that’s not the case for everyone, especially seniors who are living on a fixed income. That’s why there are energy assistance programs specifically for seniors who need help paying their electricity and gas bills.

Below we’ve provided information on energy assistance programs that seniors can take advantage of this year. Use it as a starting off point to ease the financial burden and stress of paying for energy later in life. 

Federal Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program

The Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) is a federal program that’s administered at the state level. That means the funds are provided by the federal government, but each state processes and approves applications for the program. 

Every state offers assistance with energy costs through LIHEAP. However, seniors must meet the income qualifications in their state. To qualify a person must make 60% of the state median income or less, and the limits are based on the number of people in the household. 

It’s important for applicants to understand that LIHEAP is a one-time payment, not a monthly deduction. Recipients receive the funds to offset the cost of their monthly energy bills. In addition to getting assistance paying energy bills, you can also receive funds to pay for energy-related home repairs and weatherization that helps reduce energy use.

California Energy Assistance Programs for Seniors

Assistance with energy bills is available at the city and county level in California as well as through local utility companies. There are also a number of nonprofit organizations that provide help with energy bills. 

Three programs that seniors should look into are CARE, FERA and the Medical Baseline Allowance, which are administered by utility companies. Some utilities also offer emergency charitable assistance, but the funds are limited. 

California Alternate Rates for Energy (CARE) 

Customers that meet the income eligibility guidelines can get 20% off their gas and electric bill. Applications for the program are available through your local utility. 

Family Electric Rate Assistance (FERA)

If there are three or more people in a household that meets low income qualifications you may be able to get a discount on energy bills through FERA.

Medical Baseline Allowance

If someone in the household has a qualifying medical condition the baseline for energy that’s charged at the minimum rate is increased. You’ll need a doctor to sign off on the application to be approved.

The California Department of Community Services & Development has a service area map and tool that can be used to locate energy assistance programs in a certain area down to the zip code. For example, Los Angeles has a program called Lifeline gives seniors and people with disabilities an exemption on their utility bills. 

Texas Energy Assistance Programs for Seniors

Seniors that live in Texas are fortunate to have a lot of resources available to assist with energy costs. 

Comprehensive Energy Assistance Program (CEAP)

CEAP is a statewide program that will pay 6-12 of the highest utilities bills in the year for low-income seniors. The number of bills paid depends on if the household is considered vulnerable or non-vulnerable. 

Electric Matching Program

Low-income seniors who are on Medicaid or receive supplemental nutrition assistance program (SNAP) benefits should be eligible for benefits through their local electric provider

The Power to Care Program

This program is specifically for seniors in Texas who are struggling to pay their energy bills. Seniors that have a low or fixed income can receive emergency bill pay assistance.

Department of Housing and Community Affairs Weatherization Program

The Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs (TDHCA) Weatherization Program provides assistance with weatherizing a home in order to reduce energy costs and improve comfort. 

Texas Utility Help Program

As the name suggests, this program helps qualified households pay their utility bills. The program is available to seniors that rent and those that own their homes.

System Benefit Fund for Energy Efficiency Programs

This fund is intended for energy efficiency programs that help consumers. Local utilities will help qualifying households install energy efficiency equipment like CFL bulbs and low-flow water restrictors. There are also special programs for leasing major equipment that needs to be replaced.

Anyone who needs support should reach out for their county Community Action Association. Your local utility and energy provider may provide additional assistance. 

At Spark Energy we try to make energy as affordable as possible for customers. We’ve created different types of fixed rate energy plans for different budgets, offer energy education and customer support that can point you towards help when you need it. Give us a call or an email anytime!

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