9/19/2018 1:52:49 PM
It may seem early to start thinking of winter and the heating season. But for Minnesotans who struggle to pay their heating bills, now is the time to apply for financial assistance to help pay those bills.
Eligible Minnesotans are encouraged to apply for the state's Energy Assistance Program, which helps low-income households earning less than 50% of the state’s median income ($49,698 for a family of four).
More than 126,000 Minnesota households received energy assistance during last year's heating season. The average grant was about $545, paid directly to the household's utility or heating fuel provider.
Funded through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Energy Assistance Program is administered by the Minnesota Department of Commerce with 29 service providers throughout the state.
Households with seniors, disabled individuals and children are especially encouraged to apply for energy assistance because they are more vulnerable in low-heat situations and may live on fixed low incomes.
Nearly 40 percent of Minnesota households that received energy assistance last year included seniors. But many seniors who are eligible still do not apply. The Commerce Department encourages families to talk with older family members about applying for energy assistance if they qualify.
Here is what two Minnesotans who received energy assistance say about the program:
“Energy Assistance has been a godsend for my husband and me. It’s wonderful because I’ve got poor circulation and other health issues, so I can’t afford to turn the heat down too much. Thanks to the support we get to pay our utility bills, we don’t have to choose between paying to heat our home or for basic necessities, such as prescription drugs and groceries. For people on fixed incomes, energy assistance is fabulous. I tell many of my elderly friends they should apply.”
“I’m a single mom with three children, and there is only so much I can do to save. Half of my money goes to my mortgage. I would be devastated if there weren’t programs like Energy Assistance.”
The Commerce Department recently sent applications to households that received energy assistance last year. But anyone who may qualify is encouraged to apply now.
To apply, contact the local service provider in your county and request an application. To find your service provider, /commerce/eap.jspvisit the Energy Assistance Program on the Commerce Department website (mn.gov/commerce) or call 1-800-657-3710.
Minnesotans who qualify for energy assistance may also be eligible for the /commerce/consumers/consumer-assistance/weatherization/index.jspWeatherization Assistance Program, a companion program that uses the same application as energy assistance. The weatherization program helps permanently reduce energy bills for low-income Minnesotans by providing free energy-saving upgrades to ensure that their homes are warm, healthy and safe.
Other forms of assistance may also be available through county social service programs, community-based organizations and nonprofit agencies.
Minnesota Energy Tips is provided twice a month by the Minnesota Department of Commerce, Division of Energy Resources. Contact the Commerce Department's Energy Information Center at firstname.lastname@example.org or 1-800-657-3710 with energy questions.