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How To Get Help Paying Your Utility Bills

Resources To Help Keep Your Lights On

If you can’t pay your utility bills, you’re in a vulnerable and terrifying situation. Fortunately, there are companies that can assist you afford the fees whether you’re already behind in your payments or you don’t believe you can make your next one.

Learn what happens when you can’t pay your utility bills and which organizations may give financial aid.

What if You Can’t Pay Your Utility Bills?

Service providers normally won't terminate your services the instant you miss a payment, so you may breathe easy if you've missed a payment by only a day or two. However, it's crucial to respond fast.

Missed payments may have a domino effect, making it more difficult to stay caught up, and potentially damaging other sections of your budget. You may face a late charge or perhaps your provider may disconnect your services after missing a payment. Some businesses may charge a reconnecting fee to re-establish services.

Another crucial consideration is your credit score. While energy providers don’t frequently submit utility bills to the credit agencies, delinquent utility payments might damage your credit score. Your supplier may submit your late amount to a collection agency, which may report your past-due account information to the credit bureaus.

Having accounts in collection might damage your credit score and your ability to obtain accepted for credit-related goods and services. You may even have to pay a security deposit when you start services with a new firm.

You may be under a moratorium on service disconnections based on your state and the time of year. Under the moratorium, service providers may not be authorized to disconnect services in severe weather scenarios, for low-income individuals, or for those who have requested for government emergency assistance.

If you are on life support or have other medical requirements that need utility services, your utility company may be banned from terminating services, provided you have told your provider. Check with your state utilities commission to get acquainted with the rules and safeguards in your region.
Note
Working with the energy provider proactively before you go too far behind will help you remain caught up and protect your account from going into default.

Options for Relief

There are a few locations you may seek assistance with paying your electricity bills. Your service provider is the best place to start. Reach out to customer support to explain your issue and inquire about the solutions accessible to you. Your provider may enable you to seek an extension, pay your account in installments, or link you to a partner group that may assist.

Depending on your income, you may be able to seek help via the following federal and local programs and organizations.

Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)

LIHEAP is a federally sponsored program operated via the Department of Health and Human Services that aids with home energy bills and other energy-related concerns including emergency and weatherization.

Assistance is offered to low-income homes with a kid, handicapped person, or senior. To qualify (in most situations), your total household income for the preceding month must be at or below 150% of the federal poverty level:

LIHEAP Maximum Income Limits
Household Size Pre-Tax Yearly Income Limit
1 $19,320
2 $26,130
3 $32,940
4 $39,750
5 $45,650
6 $53,370
7 $60,180
8 $66,990

You'll need to give a copy of your utility bill and evidence of income for all household members. Contact your state program administrator to acquire more information and to apply. Some states may have varying qualifying criteria.

Note
You may be automatically eligible if you participate in other benefit programs like SNAP, SSI, TANF, or some need-tested veteran benefits.

The Salvation Army

Your local Salvation Army may have a collaboration with utility service providers to give emergency help with utility bills. Eligibility restrictions may vary based on the local program, but usually, programs support persons with little income, or who are old or handicapped. alternative situational qualifying conditions may apply—a current unpaid utility bill, no access to alternative support, and the need to make a payment to maintain or restore services.

Contact your local chapter of The Salvation Army to find out more about program eligibility.

Call 2-1-1

Dial 2-1-1 anywhere in the nation to obtain a suggestion for community-based groups that can help you. Some local groups that offer emergency utility help, such the Jewish Family and Community Services, need you to be recommended by a local 211 agency.

Tips for Lowering Your Utility Bills

Reducing your utility service prices might make your bills more reasonable and simpler to balance with your other obligations. Your electric service provider may provide billing choices to assist minimize your monthly bills.

For example, budget billing smooths out seasonal swings and enables you to pay the same amount each month. “Time-advantage” or “time-of-use” billing helps you to save money if you're able to utilize more power during non-peak hours.

Make sure your house is utilizing energy effectively by having a home energy audit conducted. The audit might help you find spots where your house is wasting energy. Some government initiatives assist with weatherization expenditures for low-income homes.

Lowering your energy use may take some money off your future electricity costs. Even minor actions like disconnecting unneeded equipment, turning off lights you're not using, and washing clothing in cold water may cut your energy use and make your cost more manageable.

Key Takeaways

Your utility service provider is the first place to investigate alternatives for extending your due date or working out an installment plan.
 
Low-income families may qualify for government help via LIHEAP.
 
Local nonprofit, charity, and religious groups may give financial help or link you with other resources.

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