Cold weather brings happy thoughts of the holiday season to many, but for some – those who may not be able to afford to keep the heat on – it can be a scary time of year.

In order to address those concerns, on Monday, Dec. 2, the NC Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) will begin taking applications for the “Low-Income Energy Assistance Program.”

The federally funded program is exactly how the name sounds. The money will help cover power bills for eligible applicants in need. It will help households with low incomes through a one-time payment made directly to their heating vendor in order to offset the cost of keeping their homes warm.

After the Thanksgiving holiday, the NCHHHS will start accepting applications through the Guilford County Department of Health and Human Services.  Social Services departments in other counties will also begin taking applications for the money.

Households that include a person 60 years old or older – or that include a disabled person receiving services through the Division of Aging and Adult Services – may be eligible if there’s a life-threatening or health-related issue due to a lack of heating.

 The program funding is limited so those who need this assistance shouldn’t put off the application, which must be submitted by the end of the year.

David Locklear, the deputy director of Economic and Family Services in the Division of Social Services, stated that this type of heating assistance can be critical for some in winter.

“We want to ensure families are healthy and safe during some of the most difficult times of the year,” he said.

Eligible families could have payments of $300, $400 or $500 applied to their heating bills.

In order to be eligible, a household must:

  • Have at least one U.S. citizen or non-citizen who meets the eligibility criteria
  • Have income equal to or less than 130 percent of the federal poverty limit

(For a family of four that’s a gross monthly income of $2,790.)

  • Have less than $2,250 on hand – that is, in cash or in bank accounts
  • Be responsible for their heating costs