Heating assistance available for area residents
Area residents who are struggling to meet the costs of heating bills can take advantage of a number of programs for assistance.
On October 30, 2023, the federal government released nearly $3.7 billion in Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) funding to help households with their home energy costs.
Along with the additional funding, ACF also launched a LIHEAP eligibility tool at liheapch.acf.hhs.gov/eligibility-tool. This tool allows households across Iowa and the country to quickly identify if they might be eligible for LIHEAP assistance by inputting basic information like income and household size.
The annual application period runs through April 30. To determine eligibility or to apply, contact West Central Community action at 623-2339, or visit them in person at their location at 1201 Highland Ave. Applications for the LIHEAP and weatherization programs are accepted on a first-come, first-served basis.
If you qualify for either program, your utility company will be notified and you will be eligible for protection from disconnection of your heating service for nonpayment during Iowa’s annual winter disconnection moratorium on April 1. The LIHEAP payment is made directly to the utility or heating fuel vendor with limited exceptions for applicants whose heating source is included in their rental payments.
Although qualified applicants cannot be disconnected during the moratorium for nonpayment, the IUB urges all LIHEAP-certified customers to continue paying toward their energy bills to avoid accumulating high debt and facing potential utility service disconnection once the moratorium period ends.
As part of the weatherization program, which has limited funding, experts may install permanent, cost-effective measures to weatherize the building shell and improve heating and cooling systems. A computerized energy audit helps determine the cost-effectiveness of various energy efficiency upgrades like the installation of additional or new insulation. Potential indoor air quality and other resident health and safety issues are also addressed, including checks of all combustion appliances.
MidAmerican Energy is part of the LIHEAP program, and another option is available to MidAmerican Energy Customers struggling to pay bills.
Customers who want to avoid month-to-month bill fluctuations can opt for MidAmerican’s Budget Billing program, which allows customers to pay the same amount each month for a set period. The free program does not lower rates or costs but does offer a more predictable bill.
To help those in need, customers can donate to MidAmerican’s I CARE program. I CARE provides funding to local community action agencies to assist low-income residents with heating bills and home weatherization.
Customer donations fund I CARE, together with a 25% match from MidAmerican. Tax-deductible donations to the I CARE program stay within the local community and go directly to help those in need. MidAmerican customers can donate to the I CARE program by noting the donation amount on their monthly bill or pledging online.
Veterans Affairs director Curtis White said his office had some funds available for veterans with low income to assist with heating bills. The veteran needs to stop in at White’s office and pick up an application. They also must provide their DD214. Also, there are other ways White can help.
“If a veteran homeowner is considered ‘low income’ and has unforeseen costs, such as a broken furnace, I can work with them and apply to the Iowa Veterans Trust fund. Again, they would need to come into the office to pick up an application,” said White.
White’s office is located at the Montgomery County Courthouse at 105 E. Coolbaugh St., on the third floor. White said veterans need to call him and schedule an appointment by calling 623-3180, or his cell phone at 712-370-1577.