The coldest weeks are (hopefully) behind us, but that’s of little comfort to the thousands of Utahns who have to decide between eating and paying their utility bill. Fortunately, help is available.
The Utah Department of Workforce Services offers the Home Energy Assistance Target (HEAT) program year-round for low-income households.
In order to qualify, you have to be at or below 150 percent of the Federal Poverty Level. You must also be the person in charge of paying the utility costs (to safeguard against those who qualify from getting assistance to households that aren’t their own).
Finally, the household must include at least one person who’s a U.S. citizen, although he or she need not necessarily be the homeowner/head of household. Also consider the Home Electric Lifeline Program (HELP), which offers assistance with electricity bills with similar guidelines.
Too Close for Comfort?
If you’re about to get your heat shut off, don’t panic. The Moratorium program can help while you apply for the HEAT program or seek other assistance. It’s available every year from Nov. 15 through March 15. You must agree to a payment plan, and this program is offered via utility companies that are governed by the Public Service Commission (most companies in Utah fall into this category).
In order to qualify, you must apply to HEAT, be living at the address and make a good-faith effort to pay during the moratorium period. The applicant also must be the account holder or spouse.
If you’re disabled, over 60, or have a disabled child at home, you’re also required to apply for help from the American Red Cross. For households with Questar Gas, there’s a separate Energy Assistance Fund (EAF) that provides a one-time credit of $61.50 if you’re approved for HEAT assistance.
Your Furnace Keeps You Warm and Safe
Your furnace or boiler is more than a comfort, and it’s certainly not a luxury in chilly Utah winters—it’s a necessity and a real lifesaver. Research additional resources, such as Catholic Community Services, which offers crisis funds around the Salt Lake City metro area. You must be HEAT approved first, and can qualify once per year.
Provo City Power also has a HELP program for customers, with special assistance for military families as well. Military households may qualify for a 50 percent reduction in utility bills for up to six months. For customers of Rocky Mountain Power/PacifiCorp, funding via Lend a Hand is available in limited quantities with a preference for seniors, disabled customers, and those in very low income brackets.
Help is available, although it might take some digging and research. To keep warm and cozy this winter, also know that Roberts Mechanical is in your corner for inspection, maintenance and repairs of furnaces.