LIHEAP in California

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California LIHEAP aids low income households and families that need are unable to pay for the cost of heating and cooling bills. Energy assistance is provided as a one-time financial assistance or as emergency assistance, such as after a household receives a disconnect notice from a utility company. Additionally, the program provides eligible households with free weatherization upgrades in order to lower monthly utility bills moving forward. By providing weatherization upgrades, a household will have less need for financial assistance in the future as bills are often much more manageable.

Before applying for utility assistance in California, it is important to learn more about this program and the benefits that can be provided to eligible participants. Funding is limited and so benefits are not guaranteed, even if a household is found eligible for assistance. In California, a priority system will also determine whether or not a household can receive aid.

Types of LIHEAP Energy Assistance in California

Energy and heating assistance is provided in California to safeguard the wellbeing of state residents who are experiencing financial hardship. This federally-funded assistance program provides one-time financial assistance to low income families that qualify for aid. However, it is also important to know that funding is limited, and services are at times unavailable, even if a household qualifies.

LIHEAP provides three different types of assistances in California: the Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP), the Energy Crisis Intervention Program (ECIP), and weatherization. All three of these forms of assistance have a priority system in order to provide financial assistance to households with the greatest need. This priority system is based upon family income, need, households with vulnerability populations and households that include elderly, young children or disabled individuals.

One part of the low income home energy assistance program, HEAP, provides households with a one-time financial assistance to help the household offset their energy costs. ECIP also provides financial assistance towards heating and electric utility bills. However, this part of the program is designed to aid families and households that are in a crisis. For example, if a family has received a 24 to 48 hour disconnect notice from the utility provider, that family may be eligible for ECIP, so long as funding is available and eligibility requirements have been met.

California LIHEAP weatherization provides low income households improvements to the home that will increase energy efficiency, reduce health hazards and improve the safety of household occupants. By reducing energy consumption, a household is likely to be in need of financial aid in the future as utility bills are often reduced. If found eligible for this form of energy assistance, a household will be visited by an energy auditor for an inspection of the home. Based on a result of the assessment, energy improvements methods may include:

  • Sealing the holes and cracks around pipes, doors and windows.
  • Ensuring that the home has the proper level of insulation.
  • Fixing or replacing windows.
  • Fitting an insulated blanket to the water heating.
  • Ensuring that heating and air condition systems are working properly.

Learn more about the types of LIHEAP programs available by downloading our guide.

What are the California LIHEAP eligibility Guidelines?

Before you apply for LIHEAP in California, it is strongly recommended that you familiarize yourself with the eligibility guidelines that must be met in order to receive benefits from the program. By familiarizing yourself with these eligibility requirements, you will gain a better understand as to whether or not you may qualify for assistance as well as be better prepared for the application process.

The LIHEAP program has several factors that determine a household’s eligibility to receive financial or weatherization assistance, including income, household size and energy use. There are also residency requirements as only California residents will be eligible to receive benefits from the state program.

LIHEAP income guidelines are based upon household size with larger households having a higher income limit than that of smaller households. These limits are reassessed periodically, based upon changes to the federal poverty line and local income mediums.

As stated previously, priority for benefits is also given to households that contain members whom have a greater risk factor for death or illness if a home becomes too hot or too cold. These high risk individuals include senior citizens, young children and individuals with physical disabilities.

How to Apply for LIHEAP in California

If you are in need of energy assistance in California and you may meet the eligibility requirements mentioned above, then it is strongly recommended that you submit an application. An application can be submitted by contacting your local Energy Agency or Community Action Agency. In some cases, you may be able to submit an application over the phone. When submitting a LIHEAP application, you must be able to provide the necessary documentation in order to complete your application and receive benefits. Documents that must be submitted alongside your application include:

  • A valid photo ID, such as a driver’s license or California identification card.
  • Proof of income for the last 30 days for all adults living within the household.
  • Any shut-off notices that you have received from your utility, if applicable.
  • All of the pages of your most recent utility bill. If you have more than one energy provider, you must provide the most recent bill for each provider.

You can submit a LIHEAP application online in California in order to expedite your application. However, an online application can only be submitted if you need assistance with utility bills. For weatherization, you must still contact your local Energy Agency or Community Action Agency.

When applying for LIHEAP online in California, you will still be required to submit documentation alongside your application. To do this, you must be able to provide PDF scanned files for each of the documents listed above. If you do not have access to a scanner, you can download one for free on a smart device.

Find out more about applying for LIHEAP by downloading our free guide.

How much does LIHEAP pay in California?

California energy assistance and weatherization amounts will vary for a number of reasons, including the size and income of a household, a household’s energy use and current funding. If you are approved to receive benefits, you will be informed of the amount that your household will qualify for. As stated previously, meeting eligibility guidelines for the program is not a guarantee of benefits.

If you receive utility assistance, a onetime payment will be made directly to your utility provider. Finances are never provided to the applicant directly. If you receive weatherization upgrade benefits, those upgrades will be completed at no cost to you, but you will not be able to choose the contractor or company that handles the weatherization tasks.

How can I check the status of my LIHEAP application?

Your California LIHEAP application status can only be viewed by contacting your local agency that your application was submitted through. Statuses cannot be viewed online, but you may be able to receive information by contacting that local agency over the phone rather than having to visit the location in person to review your application.