3 Ways To Get Help With Paying For Heat

If your wallet is naked and shivering this winter when it comes to paying your heating bill, here’s 3 ways to get help.

1. Low-Income Housing and Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) Direct funding for heating bills
2. The Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) Funds homeowners to make their homes more energy efficient
3. Check with your electrical company for winter assistant plans.

6 Ways to Give or Get Help Paying for Heat This Winter [Furnace Compare] (Photo: Getty)

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  1. PixiePerson says:

    I love my landlady.
    I love my apartment.
    I love that heat is included.

    There are many reasons that I love my landlady and apartment, but making sure heat was included was a big thing for me. I won’t have any surprises this winter aside from the ongoing one that despite footing the bill, she doesn’t skimp on the heat.

    I don’t know if it is a common thing everywhere, but it seems to be fairly common here. Most of the apartments I looked at were heat included and honestly, I couldn’t be happier about it.

    • ChChChacos says:

      @PixiePerson: What city do you live in where this is the norm (landlord paying for heat). I live in southern MA and that seems far from any norm I’ve ever seen.

      • PixiePerson says:

        @ChChChacos: I’m in Chicago. I wouldn’t say it was the norm here, but it is fairly common. My first apartment (an utter hellhole) had it, most of the apartments the apartment finders took me to see had it, and mine now (second apartment) does.

      • Etoiles says:

        @ChChChacos: Included heat seems to be the norm in metro NYC and metro DC, but I, like you, was surprised to find it when I first moved — I’m originally from MA and damn does heating oil get expensive!

        • oneandone says:

          @EtoilePB: In Metro DC it seems to be quite commmon, but not quite standard… it seems to relate to the type / age of building. My apt includes all utilities, but I think that’s rarer. I like having it all included – even with everything included, I thought it was a deal.

      • battra92 says:

        @ChChChacos: My sister lives in Vermont and she has heat included. A few around here (in the Berkshires) do too with a quick check.

      • RandomHookup says:

        @ChChChacos: For a while, I included heat and electricity for my tenants in the Boston area. It would have been too expensive to put in another furnace and rewire for a new meter. I reconfigured the place so that it is only 2 units now. No more $600 gas bills for 5 people. Unfortunately, “free” utilities means a lot of waste.

    • azntg says:

      @PixiePerson: I love my NEW landlord. One good landlord after another.

      - Heat and hot water included in rent (though we pay for cooking gas)… only, the heat comes on when it’s 70F outside and shuts off when it’s 30-40F outside.

      Except, of course, the days when city inspectors show up after a resident makes countless complaints of no heat and hot water. They’re “working on it.”

      - Charging me “late fees” even though the check cleared well before their “due date,” which has changed two times (since the new landlord came in) without any prior notice whatsoever.

      Only nice thing I can say:

      - Major renovations (undoing the two decades of neglect the previous landlord has brought upon the apartment). But that’ll probably be used to jack up our rents in our rent-stabilized apartment to insane levels.

    • bohemian says:

      @PixiePerson: My parents recently sold their townhouse and moved into a nice apartment with heat included in the rent.

      It is a big relief that they did this. I at least have some piece of mind that they are not living on stale toast and skipping prescriptions because heat is so expensive and they won’t ask for help.

    • HooFoot says:

      @PixiePerson: This is one thing a lot of young people forget to think about when looking for their first apartment. I pay rent that is slightly above average for the area, but because the heat is included, it’s actually a bargain. If you’re going to live in area with a cold winter, ALWAYS ask questions about the heat. It will save you a lot of money.

  2. the Goat says:

    “3. Check with your electrical company for winter assistant plans.”

    Who uses electric heat?

    • AmbroseP says:

      @the Goat:

      I don’t think it’s an issue of using electric heat as much as it is an issue of receiving assistance from companies who want to, arguably, act altruistic and “unintentionally” look good in the process.

      Though, large, electrically-powered heating coils are pretty common in space heaters and many people still use those.

    • hopson77 says:

      @the Goat: Those of use who are using heat pumps. I love paying $0.15/kWh!

    • KyleOrton says:

      @the Goat: People with older, pre-forced-air homes that don’t want steam radiators and can’t install all of the necessary ducts for forced air heat.

      It also has a lower initial cost when compared to a furnace and ductwork. Especially for a moderate climate.

    • dripdrop says:

      @the Goat:

      Most of the apartments I’ve lived in had electric heat.

    • Ein2015 says:

      @the Goat: My apartment in Dallas has electric heat. And they make us pay for the electricity. -.-

    • FLConsumer says:

      @the Goat: People who ran the numbers and installed heat pumps! Costs me $0.08/hr to heat this place with my new heat pump. So, for about $0.25-$0.80/day, I can heat my entire home quite comfortably.

      No matter how you slice it, even the best gas furnace is only 96% efficient. Heat pumps are ~200-400% efficient. So, even with the relatively “high” fuel cost of electricity, it’s still cheaper to run. It’s not much different than the diesel vs. gas powered car debate. Diesel may be more expensive at the pump, but it’s far less expensive when you run the #’s because you’ll get nearly 2x more mileage than on a gallon of gas.

  3. Justinh6 says:

    Too bad you have to make literally zero dollars to get any of this assistance..

  4. little stripes says:

    I live in Phoenix, AZ, and am lucky that I rarely, if ever, have to turn on the heat during the winter. Of course, my electric bills are sky-high during the summer when it’s 110+ outside. :(

    • misslisa says:

      @little stripes: You beat me to it – It is worth sweating like a pig in Phx and having $175 electric bills in the summer so that I don’t have to worry about heat in winter. Although now, with the onset of menopause, I could probably move to Wisconsin and still stay toasty in the winter.

  5. __Ken__ says:

    I bought a radiator at Home Depot. It doesn’t warm up the whole house, but it’s comfortable in the areas near it. I also use a fan behind it to spread the heat. It’s a Holmes and I don’t recall how much it was but it was cheap enough to make me thing about it. Maybe $20-40

    Difference in costs:
    $58 electric jumped to $68
    $125 gas went down to $50 something.

    I’m thinking about getting another one for the other end of the house and still saving.

  6. Daveinva says:

    Why can’t I just write Hugo Chavez? Or will he not give us free heating oil again if we elect Senator Obama?

  7. FightOnTrojans says:

    My old boss in New Hampshire was a real cheapskate when it came to heating the place. He would tell us to extend our arms out to our sides and move them in a circular motion really fast to force blood into our arms and hands and this would warm up our hands. Seriously… in the teen or single digits outside, not much better inside, and we’re doing friggin calisthenics because the guy was too cheap to turn on the heat.

    • little stripes says:

      @FightOnTrojans: I am fairly certain most states have laws where temps have to legally stay above or below a certain temp. I know that Arizona has such laws for summer.

  8. Murph1908 says:

    I know this doesn’t apply to everyone who needs help with paying for heat, but…

    Last night on the news they had a story about people having trouble paying their heating bill, and the assistance they could possibly get. They were interviewing several people in this predicament. One lady said she couldn’t afford to pay for the both heat and her cell phone.

    o.O

    Oh, ok. The rest of the state will pay for your heat for you. Go ahead and keep your cell phone.

    • Anonymous says:

      @Murph1908: I think you are equating the cell to a luxury item. Many people have dropped land lines to go with cell phones only, myself included. Without a phone I would have no way of contacting emergency services or family or an employer.

    • PixiePerson says:

      @Murph1908: I could perhaps understand that if she did not have a landline.

      • azntg says:

        @PixiePerson: Agreed.

        Not everyone has both a cellphone AND a landline phone nowadays.

        Of course, if you want to argue that telephones are luxuries in America in 2008, that’s a whole other issue!

  9. Anonymous says:

    Ben,
    Thanks for posting this. Across the country people can also call 2-1-1 (similar to 4-1-1 or 9-1-1). 2-1-1 is United Way’s Free and Confidential helpline. It connects you to health and human services and can usually put you in touch with local organizations that are giving out cash assistance for basic needs. I work for United Way and we’ve been trying to get the word out so people know where to go for help. Also, if you’re in Massachusetts, Our United Way just launched the Community Support Fund (http://supportunitedway.org/csf) to provide emergency assistance for things like food, utilities, rent and mortgage payments. Thanks again for trying to help people out.

  10. LeonieNike says:

    I found these two site which gave some ways and programs that help save on heating and utility bills. You can save in addition to the LHEAP you mention. For example, a programmable thermostat will save around 10%. quick and easy…
    http://www.needhelppayingbills.com
    http://www.waystosaveelectricity.com

  11. flugangst says:

    “3. Check with your electrical company for winter assistant plans.”

    Will my winter assistant make me hot cocoa and bring me my slippers? Does he take dictation and answer phones? And what will they do with my winter assistant do once spring rolls around?

  12. Verucalise (Est.February2008) says:

    I have a woodstove, fuel furnace, AND electric heat in the two furthest rooms away from the woodstove. It costs us about $750 for a winter’s worth of wood. We just put 150 gallons in our furnace as backup when the woodstove goes out- $450. We have the electric heaters, they average about $30 extra a month, for about the 4 months of the worst cold. We plastic up the coldest/oldest windows, and do the small remedies to make it more efficient.

    In total, it costs us about $188 a month thru the 7 months of cold up here in NY. Not too shabby for a 2,000+ sq. ft. home.

    • HogwartsAlum says:

      @verucalise:

      That’s pretty good. And if the power goes out, like in a snow or ice storm, you have the woodstove. Yes, I’m traumatized from the January 2007 ice storm which shut off the power in the entire city!!!

      I want a woodstove. No, wait. I want to move back to California where it’s warm.

      Come on, Publishers Clearinghouse!!! ;)

  13. oneandone says:

    If you’re in PA, The Energy Cooperative has good prices – about $2.46 per gallon of heating oil. Their website is very basic but it’s a good service. They got the members of the PennPIRG Fuel Buyer center when that closed. [www.theenergy.coop]

    Other states with a PIRG (Public Interest Research Group – state-based non-profits focusing on public health, consumer safety, privacy, etc) might have fuel buyer programs also. The heat oil won’t be free, but it could be a good discount.

  14. bohemian says:

    We are investing in making some heavy insulated curtains for various windows and some space heaters. Our gas and electric bills last winter were insane. I guess two months of below zero and constant 30mph winds will do that.

  15. innout3x3 says:

    my solution: live in California. Done.

  16. Anonymous says:

    Micro CHP costs up front but from my cursory research on the subject it looks like it’s a reasonable thing to do. I was turned on to the idea whilst in Japan earlier this year.

  17. Cat_In_A_Hat says:

    Love the picture. totally reminds me of my roommates and I when I lived in Italy and our building wasn’t REQUIRED BY LAW to turn on the heat until November.

  18. mzs says:

    There is a bad side to the land lord pays for the heat. He can turn it down. As a kid we lived in an apartment outside of Chicago, until the first winter. It was in the mid to low 50s inside. We ended-up living in the kitchen using the stove for heat until my parents found another place. He could get away with it because almost every tenant was an immigrant and he would just make al sorts of scary threats.

  19. HooFoot says:

    I spent last winter processing LIHEAP applications. If you’re going to apply for energy assistance, let me offer you the following tips:

    - If you received an application at the end of LIHEAP a few months ago, mail it in immediately. If it does not come in by the deadline provided, we mail you a new application and you get to wait longer than you would have.

    - If you think you need LIHEAP this year, send in your application now. The volume last year was insane and it will no doubt we worse this winter.

    - PLEASE read the directions on the application and FOLLOW them. This includes filling out all of the boxes on the application and providing copies of your bills/identification papers. You have no idea how many applications we receive that did not provide the necessary information. This will only cause your application to be delayed or rejected.

    - Do not send your original birth certificate or social security card. Copies will do just fine.

    - You can write a long letter explaining why you need LIHEAP, but it won’t do much good if you don’t give us the info required to process your application. It also won’t push your application to the top of the application pile.

  20. unoriginal says:

    I would love to be able to turn the heat on. But the Santa Anas are up and running here in San Diego and it was a balmy 97 yesterday and cooled off to 95 today. I like living here but would really prefer not to have to run my AC in the middle of October.

  21. quizmasterchris says:

    LIHEAP runs out of money every year, and tens of thousands of Americans are saved by Venezuela – my president is Hugo Chavez.

    People do know Obama is pretty much anti-Chavez, yes? [www.atravesdevenezuela.com]

  22. christoj879 says:

    Used motor oil burner ftw!

  23. EightIsEnough says:

    I have a hardwood forest and a wood stove…

    ….treehuggers be damned.