Temperatures are going down across the state — Governor Hochul and New York State are here to help you keep the heat on.
According to the New York Public Service Commission, electric and natural gas bills are expected to be higher for the 2021-2022 winter season than last year, with natural gas projected to increase by an average of about 21% statewide. Propane has also increased about 30% since last winter according to the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority's Propane Pricing Dashboard.
With the economic impact of the COVID-19, New York families may struggle to pay their heating bills. If you’re at risk of losing your heat this winter, we are here to help.
Apply for Heating and Utility Assistance
Apply for Heating and Utility Assistance
In October 2021, Governor Hochul announced $373 million for home heating aid to assist New Yorkers during cold weather months and since January 3, 2022, more than $25 million in Emergency Assistance has been distributed to New Yorkers.
In February 2022, Governor Hochul announced that $65 million in funding remains available to help low- and middle-income New Yorkers avoid having their home heating disconnected or exhausting their heating source amid fuel price increases in the third month of winter.
Eligible homeowners and renters may apply for the Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP), which can provide up to $751 depending on income, household size and how they heat their home. A family of four may have a maximum gross monthly income of $5,249 or an annual gross income of $62,983 and still qualify for benefits — a modest increase from the previous year's threshold.
You can apply for a Regular HEAP Benefit:
When the HEAP Regular benefit is open you may apply online if your household resides outside of New York City. This application is for a Regular HEAP benefit only.
When the HEAP Regular benefit is open you may apply in person at your HEAP Local District Contact.
When the HEAP Regular benefit is open, print and mail the completed HEAP application:
- Outside of New York City mail it to your HEAP Local District Contact, or
- New York City residents can mail it to: NYC DSS/HRA/HEAP, PO Box 1401, Church Street Station, New York, NY 10008
In addition to the $373 million in funding, Governor Hochul announced that New York State is providing $150 million in federal funding to help low-income households pay heating utility arrears. This Regular Arrears Supplement benefit is available to households who are eligible for HEAP and behind on their heating utility bills, but that do not qualify for the utility assistance offered by New York's Emergency Rental Assistance Program. The one-time payments can cover all accumulated heating utility arrears up to $10,000 per household.
You may apply for the Regular Arrears Supplement benefit with your HEAP Local District Contact.
Applications for assistance are accepted at local departments of social services in person or by telephone, with funding provided on a first-come, first-served basis. Here is a list of local offices by county. Residents outside of New York City may also apply online for regular heating assistance benefits. New York City residents may download an application and obtain program information here.
Applicants must meet all eligibility requirements to receive a regular HEAP benefit, which vary by income and household size, and be in active collections or otherwise facing disconnection or termination of service. Applicants must also be the utility customer of record or pay a utility directly.
Heating Equipment Repair or Replacement Benefit
Help is also now available to assist eligible homeowners if their primary heating equipment is unsafe or not operating and their furnace or boiler must be repaired or replaced. Benefit amounts through the HEAP Heating Equipment Repair and Replacement program are based on the actual cost incurred to repair or replace the essential heating equipment -up to $3,000 for a repair and $6,500 for a replacement.
Emergency HEAP Benefits
Starting Jan. 3, HEAP will also provide a one-time emergency benefit to eligible households that are facing a heating emergency.
You may be eligible for an emergency HEAP benefit if:
- Your electricity is necessary for your heating system or thermostat to work and is either shut-off or scheduled to be shut off or
- Your electric or natural gas heat is off or scheduled to be shut-off or
- You are out of fuel, or you have less than one quarter tank of fuel oil, kerosene or propane or have less than a ten (10) day supply of wood, wood pellets, corn, or other deliverable heat source.
- Your income is at or below the current income guidelines as posted in the table below or you receive Family Assistance, Safety Net Assistance, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance (SNAP) or Code A Supplemental Security Income.
- The heating and/or electric bill is in your name and
- Your household's available resources are:
- less than $2,000 if no member of your household is age 60 or older; or
- less than $3,000 if any member of your household is age 60 or older.
You can apply for a HEAP Emergency benefit:
When the HEAP Emergency benefit is open you may call your HEAP Local District Contact for assistance.
When the HEAP Emergency benefit is open you may apply in person at your HEAP Local District Contact.
You can apply for a Heating Equipment Repair and Replacement benefit:
You may call your HEAP Local District Contact to apply for Heating Equipment Repair and Replacement benefits. The in-person interview and application requirement is temporarily suspended. The district will provide more information on how to submit the application and required documentation.
Tips for Consumers
Tips for Consumers
The New York State Division of Consumer Protection is also offering tips for consumers to deal with the higher-than-average home heating prices that are expected this winter season. According to the New York Public Service Commission, electric and natural gas bills are expected to be higher for the 2021-2022 winter season than last year, with natural gas projected to increase by an average of about 21% statewide.
- Take steps to be more energy efficient. Consumers can take small steps at home, such as lowering the thermostat by a few degrees, using curtains that help keep heat in, and adding weather stripping to windows and doors –all that are either no or low-cost improvements. NYSERDA offers energy saving tips for residents and homeowners that can lower energy usage. Income eligible customers may also qualify for reduced-cost or free energy upgrades to their homes through Empower New York and Assisted Home Performance with ENERGY STAR® programs. Homeowners should also check with their local gas and electric utility companies to access discounted products and services that can help them lower their energy costs.
- Get a free energy audit. New York homeowners are eligible for a free home energy assessment through NYSERDA’s Residential Energy Audit Program. Qualified contractors help homeowners decide on and install worthy energy improvements, then assist them in connecting with NYSERDA’s low-interest financing programs.
- Upgrade to a clean energy heat pump. With rising fuel costs, homeowners may consider switching from fossil fuel heating equipment to a clean energy heat pump system. The NYS Clean Heat program offers rebates to homeowners to install both ground source (geothermal) heat pumps and cold-climate air source heat pumps.
- Join a Clean Heating and Cooling Campaign. NYSERDA supports communities across the state in implementing community-based outreach and education campaigns for clean heating and cooling. These campaigns are designed to help consumers understand heat pump and home improvement technologies and their benefits. Community members can negotiate rates collectively, select an installer competitively, and decrease up-front costs by enrolling in a local campaign.
- Know your rights and protections. The New York State Home Energy Fair Practices Act has comprehensive protections for residential customers regarding their utility services. These rights include the option to pay bills in installments, a cap on late fees, sufficient notice prior to shut-off of services, and protections for those on a fixed income or with medical conditions. Learn about these from the Department of Public Service at AskPSC.
- Consider bill payment options. Residential consumers can inquire with their utility provider about billing options that allow for deferred payments or ‘budget billing’ to even out utility bills that are higher in one season and lower in another. This can help structure payments to make it easier to navigate costs.
- Sign up for community solar. Community solar allows New Yorkers to save money on their electric bills each month. Consumers can subscribe to a community solar project and start receiving credits on their regular electric bill for clean energy produced by a solar farm. Renters, co-op/condo owners and businesses can save money by accessing the clean energy produced by these solar farms. Learn more about how to sign up for community solar on NYSERDA’s website.
Utility Bill Discount Program
Utility Bill Discount Program
Another available resource is New York’s Energy Affordability Policy (EAP) that requires the state's major electric and natural gas utilities to provide monthly bill discounts to income eligible customers. To address higher energy costs this winter, the New York Public Service Commission increased the budget for the EAP program by $129 million to $367 million, which means 95,000 more low-income families will be able to receive benefits, which vary by utility. The program expansion will result in more targeted bill discounts.
To enroll in the utility bill discount program, customers should contact their individual utility:
The New York Power Authority, through its Environmental Justice Community Energy Education programming, conducts weatherization workshops for low-income homeowners and renters. Workshop participants learn about simple ways to lower their heating and cooling costs, including low-cost changes they can make in their homes to help prepare for winter and summer energy needs. These interactive sessions are taught by NYPA’s expert staff, in partnership with community based organizations, including places of worship and neighborhood organizations.
After each workshop, NYPA distributes free weatherization kits that contain tools to implement many of the weatherization measures discussed during the workshop. Workshops and materials are translated into different languages to ensure weatherization messages are appropriately communicated to audience members that may speak different languages. NYPA’s Environmental Justice education programs are designed to provide energy literacy and awareness for historically disadvantaged communities. Eligible entities include organizations that serve residents who live within proximity of NYPA facilities.
Workshops are held near NYPA facilities in the North Country, Western New York, Central New York, the Capital Region, the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island and Long Island. Watch a video with a sampling of energy saving tips. Contact NYPA’s Environmental Justice Team at [email protected] to host an energy literacy program or to find out about upcoming workshops.