BY MIKE FESTA, STATE DIRECTOR, AARP MASSACHUSETTS
Massachusetts residents are seeing a significant increase in their utility bills this winter, with electricity prices up 64% and natural gas prices up nearly 30%. This spike in energy costs has left many struggling to pay their utility bills.
The Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) provides help to people with low, moderate, and fixed incomes to pay their utility bills. The program has seen its funding doubled by Congress. Many eligible customers don’t take advantage of the option simply because they are not aware of it or think they may not qualify.
In these inflationary times, the bills can add up and cause concern. Massachusetts residents have some protections against having their utilities shut off. Utility Companies can’t shut off electricity between November 15 and March 15.
Home Energy Assistance programs play a critically important role to protect public health and safety by ensuring that all families and individuals have safe access to home heating. Homeowners and renters are eligible – including households whose cost of heat is included in the rent and not subsidized. Eligibility is based on household size and the gross annual income of every household member over the age of 18.
If you have any questions about this program, please go to www.aarp.org/ma and locate our LIHEAP resource page. The recording of our LIHEAP telephone town hall that we conducted on November 16 in collaboration with MASSCAP is also available on our resource page. This telephone town hall worked to inform residents of the Commonwealth about the benefits of this program and get their questions answered.
Your local utility provider may also offer some assistance. Ask about special discount rates for income-qualified customers, setting up a payment plan, and enrollment in energy efficiency and weatherization audit programs to help you save money by reducing your energy usage. If you have further questions about eligibility for the LIHEAP program, you can also contact MASSCAP at www.masscap.org.
AARP is the nation’s largest nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to empowering people 50 and older to choose how they live as they age. With a nationwide presence and nearly 38 million members, AARP strengthens communities and advocates for what matters most to families: health security, financial stability and personal fulfillment. AARP also produces the nation’s largest circulation publications: AARP The Magazine and AARP Bulletin. To learn more, visit www.aarp.org/ma, www.aarp.org/espanol or follow @AARPMA on twitter and AARP Massachusetts on Facebook.