Some families in Illinois may get help paying for their air conditioning and cooling bills during the summer when it gets very hot. There are many programs that help low-income families pay their energy bills. The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) is one of these programs. LIHEAP provides grant money to states and Native American tribes, who then use this money to run programs that help low-income families pay their energy bills. Every year, millions of dollars in financial aid are given to people who need it. Thousands of families qualify for some form of aid.
In most years, the state of Illinois has provided grants and financial assistance to help cover the costs of cooling bills and air conditioning expenses. The federal government does not provide this type of assistance every year because sometimes it does not have enough money.
The government may provide financial assistance to low-income families during the summer when temperatures are high. This will almost always happen when the temperature gets very hot. The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity is one of the leading organizations that provides assistance, in partnership with local community action agencies and social service offices.
This program has helped a lot of families in the past by providing them with cooling assistance. However, when considering the total population of the state, the number of people who are able to receive assistance is small. The money available through LIHEAP has not kept pace with the increasing cost of electricity.
Illinois cooling bill assistance qualifications
The program has a set time limit that it will run for. The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) in Illinois is open to residents with low incomes for the month of July. To apply for assistance, residents can call (877) 411-9276.
There is also not a lot of money offered. Priority for funding is typically given to homes with someone in poor health, senior citizens, and/or families with young children. In order to be eligible for LIHEAP in Illinois, applicants must also meet low income guidelines.
Households that qualify and are responsible for their own air conditioning and electric bills will be eligible under the following criteria. This means that the applicant’s total income from all sources over the last 30 days must not be more than 1.5 times the poverty guidelines set by the federal government for the number of people in the family. Most applicants will need to have someone living in the house who is at least 60 years old, someone with a disability, or a child under the age of 60 months. Illinois residents who are most vulnerable to extreme summer heat are the elderly, the very young, people with chronic medical conditions, and those who work outdoors. One more thing to think about is that people who already get help paying their electric bill through the Percentage of Income Payment Plan (PIPP) can’t get help with their summer cooling bills.
People who need help paying their energy bills can apply for low income assistance through LIHEAP. They can do this by visiting their local administrating agency. This is usually a community action agency or organization that provides social services. People are being encouraged to call ahead to their desired location as the demand is high and there are usually long lines. To find an application site near you, dial 877-411-9276.
Additional resources for summer heat and applying
In addition to the funds that may be available for paying air conditioning and summer cooling bills as part of the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), Illinois also runs over 120 state facilities that serve as cooling centers. These locations provide relief from the heat during the summer months. The locations of the centers vary, with some being located at Salvation Army centers and others at Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) offices. They are open during the usual times that businesses are open. To find a location, call 800-843-6154.
The state of Illinois provides tips and advice for seniors and others who are at risk through the Illinois Department of Public Health. Residents are advised to keep their window shades drawn, stay hydrated, avoid going outdoors during extreme heat, minimize physical exertion, wear loose cotton clothing, and avoid cooking with ovens and eating heavy meals. If you have a severe medical condition or are taking medication, be sure to ask your doctor or pharmacist about any potential side effects of heat exposure.