An oil delivery truck idles on the street prior to an oil delivery in Hatfield. (Getty Images/William Thomas Cain) Heating Oil Prices
An oil delivery truck idles on the street prior to an oil delivery in Hatfield. (Getty Images/William Thomas Cain)

Pennsylvanians can apply for cash to help them pay heating bills and prepare their homes for winter.

Americans will have to pay more to heat their homes this year, due to energy supply-and-demand issues and a predicted colder-than-average winter, the US Department of Energy says. 

To help combat the expected spike in home heating costs, eligible Pennsylvanians can apply for cash grants through the state’s Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). Residents can also utilize the state’s Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP), which provides funding and maintenance to make homes more energy efficient

Home Heating Assistance

Through LIHEAP, the state provides cash grants to low-income renters and homeowners who need help paying their heating bills. Previously, LIHEAP offered grants between $200 and $1,000. The state also provided supplemental grants of $200 to 2020-21 applicants who qualified last season to help them start the fall season. 

Thanks to the American Rescue Plan Act, the federally-funded program can give more this year. Grants range from $500 to $1,500 based on need and fuel type, and residents don’t need to have unpaid heating bills to qualify. Last winter, more than 300,000 families in Pennsylvania received a grant of $280 on average.

“LIHEAP helps some of the commonwealth’s most vulnerable citizens – children, older Pennsylvanians, people with disabilities, and low-income families – make ends meet and keep their home safe through the winter,” said Meg Snead, acting Secretary for the state Department of Human Services, in a news release. “I encourage anyone who may need help, or anyone who has loved ones or neighbors who could benefit from this program, to apply for LIHEAP today.”

The table below shows the income requirements based on household size:

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If a household faces a heating crisis, such as broken heaters, a shut-off notice, or low fuel, they could receive an additional grant between $600 and $1,200. 

The time frame to apply is one month longer this year, from October until May 6th. 

LIHEAP is administered by the PA Department of Human Services (DHS), and residents can contact their county assistance office in the event of a crisis. Residents in Luzerne and Wyoming counties should contact the county’s Commission of Economic Opportunity. To apply, residents can print an application, and bring it to their county office, or apply online

Weatherization Assistance

The WAP program can help families save money on heating costs by taking measures to weatherize their homes. The state can pay eligible families for necessary repairs and provide contractors to do the work, too. 

The US Department of Energy funds the program which is administered by the state’s Department of Community and Economic Development. 

Low-income families at or below 200% of the poverty level can apply, and priority is given to the elderly, disabled, families with children, and high energy users. People who receive Social Security benefits or Temporary Assistance to Needy Families are automatically eligible. Nonprofit agencies and local governments that serve low-income families can apply, too.

Experts conduct on-site energy audits to determine how to save energy. This can include repairs, insulation, air-sealing, and measures that ensure health and safety. The average grant given for each household is $7,669.

Residents can apply for WAP by contacting the weatherization agency in their county.