Fuel Assistance Information: Preparing for Winter

In preparing for winter, there are several helpful programs offered through the Massachusetts Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development to assist eligible families in keeping their homes warm. Below find details and links to the various programs, as well as some useful tips on how to save energy and keep your home warm this winter.

Cold Relief Heatline  1- 800 - 632 - 8175 

Call the Cold Relief Heatline to find out where to apply for Fuel Assistance (LIHEAP), Weatherization (WAP), and the Heating System Repair and Replacement Program (HEARTWAP). The Fuel Assistance Application also serves as an application for the Weatherization program and the Heating System Repair and Replacement Program (HEARTWAP).

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FY 2017 Cold Relief Information

FY 2017 Cold Relief Brochure pdf format of cold

Program Information

  • Fuel Assistance (LIHEAP): LIHEAP-Fuel Assistance provides eligible households with help in paying winter heating bills. The program pays benefits of fixed amounts based on household income and size. An additional benefit may be available to eligible households with a high energy burden.  Local administering agencies determine household eligibility based on annualized income and the number of members in the household. The agency then will make payments towards the heating bills to the primary heat source vendor (oil, propane, wood or coal dealer or gas or electric utility). Special provisions are made for those households whose heat is included in their rent and those living in subsidized housing.  Households with incomes up to 60% of estimated State Median Income are eligible for the Fuel Assistance Program. Homeowners and renters are both eligible. More information can be found on the LIHEAP-Fuel Assistance webpage:  LIHEAP; Fuel Assistance
  • Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP): WAP is designed to assist low-income households to reduce their heating bills by providing home energy efficiency services. The program is operational year round. After a household is determined eligible and selected from a prioritized waiting list, the local agency schedules an energy inspection of the home. A Mass. Weatherization Certified Energy Auditor completes an inspection of the home’s energy and health and safety concerns and completes a Work Order/Job Write-Up. Local certified and insured weatherization contractors are hired to complete the work at no cost to the occupants. Typical work includes air sealing, attic and/or sidewall insulation, weather stripping, and minor repairs associated with the weatherization work. Heating system work, if needed, is usually done through HEARTWAP, a separate program administered by DHCD.  All work receives a thorough Quality Control inspection by the agency's Energy Auditor. To the greatest extent possible, work is coordinated with any utility-funded Energy Efficiency programs that may be available in the area. Households with incomes up to 60% of the estimated state median income are eligible for the Weatherization Assistance Program. Program eligibility is based on household eligibility for the LIHEAP Program.  In addition, those households with a member receiving TANF or SSI are categorically eligible.  Due to limited funding, priority points are awarded to households with members who are elderly, disabled, children under 7, Native Americans, and households with exceptionally high energy bills. Tenants (with landlord approval) as well as homeowners are eligible for weatherization. Weatherization services vary depending on the specific needs of the home and DOE approved conservation measures. No client contribution is required. More information can be found on the WAP webpage:  Weatherization
  • Heating System Repair and Replacement Program (HEARTWAP):  HEARTWAP is designed to provide heating system repair and replacement services to low-income households. The program is operational year round.  During the winter months, the program serves primarily as an emergency intervention service to provide assistance to low-income clients having problems with the operation of their primary heating system. Eligible LIHEAP households call the local administering agencies and notify HEARTWAP staff when they are having a problem. Heating companies, under contract with the local agency, provide services necessary to keep the heating system operating efficiently and safely.  Provisions are in place for LIHEAP clients to contact their dealer directly if the emergency occurs during the evening or on weekends. Households with incomes up to 60% of the of estimated State Median Income are eligible for the HEARTWAP. Program eligibility is based on household eligibility for the current year's LIHEAP Program. Tenants are eligible for some services, but are required to first contact their landlord who is legally responsible for the maintenance of the heating system. HEARTWAP services vary dependent on the specific needs of the home. Replacements are done for unsafe, inoperable, and irreparable heating systems. More information can be found on the HEARTWAP webpage:  HEARTWAP; Heating System Repair and Replacement Program

Winter Energy Savings Tips

  • Caulk and weatherstrip doors and windows that leak air.
  • When the fireplace is not in use, keep the flue damper tightly closed.
  • Set your thermostat as low as is comfortable and consider an automatic setback thermostat to save additional money.
  • Clean or replace filters on furnaces every other month.
  • Make sure that warm air registers, baseboard heaters and radiators are not blocked by furniture, carpeting, or drapes.
  • Close your curtains and shades at night; open them during the day.
  • Have your oil-fired heating system serviced annually and your gas-fired heating system serviced every three years.
  • Contact the energy assistance agency in your community to find out about the programs they offer that can keep you warm this winter.

Additional Resources

  • For utility company problems, please call the Department of Public Utilities (DPU) at 1-877-886-5066.   Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities
  • For limited income households who are not eligible for fuel assistance, please contact The Good Neighbor Energy Fund operated by your local Salvation Army: In area codes 617, 508, 781, or 978: 1-800-334-3047 In area code 413: 1-800-262-1320 website:  www.magoodneighbor.org
  • Mass 2-1-1: For non-emergency social service programs, dial 211
  • Citizens Energy

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