Site Menu

Energy Assistance

The Pennsylvania Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program helps low income people pay their heating bills through energy assistance grants and emergency repair assistance. There are two types of assistance: Cash and Crisis grants. You may be eligible to apply for one or both of them.

Both homeowners and renters who are responsible for their heating bills and have a low or fixed income are eligible. You do not need to have an unpaid bill to receive energy assistance. You can receive this money without being on welfare. Clients living in subsidized housing are eligible for the Cash grant only if they pay part for or all of their primary heating source directly to a vendor. LIHEAP eligibility is based on 150% of the Federal Poverty Income Guideline.

There is no resource limit. The eligibility levels may change from year to year, depending upon the amount of the funds available. Because these changes may be significant, it is wise to check each year at your county assistance office to see if you qualify. (See PA Dept. of Public Welfare's web site for current guidelines and State Plan are at

There are two types of LIHEAP assistance: Cash, and Crisis. Depending upon your needs, you may apply for one, or both at your time of application.

    • The Cash Grant is available to assist with your heating bills. You do not need an unpaid bill or to be in crisis situation to receive a Cash Grant.
    • The Crisis Grant is for those who have a home heating emergency. The Crisis Grant is separate from the Cash grant and may provide you with additional financial assistance needed to end the emergency. The maximum amount of Crisis assistance you may be able to receive is redetermined each year. You may apply for a Crisis grant more than once in each LIHEAP season, until you have received the maximum amount for that year. Emergency situations include:
      • broken heating equipment or leaking lines which must be fixed
      • being without fuel
      • utility service termination
      • imminent danger of being without fuel or of having utility service terminated.

          Assistance with energy emergency situations is available 24 hours per day.

  • The Crisis Interface component will assist you if you require a heating system repair. The county assistance office will make an emergency referral to your local Weatherization provider for immediate heating system repairs.

In addition, in some years because of the periods of extreme heat, the federal government provides additional money to Pennsylvania to be used to help offset summer cooling costs. You should check with your local county assistance office each summer to see if a cooling grant is available.

To apply for LIHEAP call or visit your local welfare office to set up an appointment. Or you can apply on-line at the DPW website:

Some of the information you will need when applying includes

  • Names of people in the household
  • Proof of income for all household members
  • Recent heating bill.

LIHEAP applications are only accepted by county offices during a certain period of the year. The program runs during the cold weather season. Although the program dates change each year, the opening date for each of the components, is generally in early November and the closing date is generally near mid to end of March. The welfare department may extend or shorten the program dates depending upon availability of federal funds. There will not be a lien placed on your property if you receive energy assistance.

A written notice explaining your eligibility and the amount of the Cash grant that will be credited to your account should be sent 30 days after your completed Cash grant application is received. The county assistance office requests 45 days to process all cash grant applications. If your application is judged to be incomplete, the department must tell you, within 10 days, what is missing and provide you an additional 15 days to complete it. An application for a Crisis Grant must be acted upon within 48 hours. However, if a life-threatening emergency exists, the department must act within 18 hours.

If you are eligible, a payment will be sent directly to the utility/fuel dealer you designate and the payment will be credited on your bill. In some cases, a check may be mailed directly to you. The amount of your energy assistance grant depends on the size of your household, your income and your type of fuel. Although grant amounts may change from year to year, typically the minimum Cash grant you receive is $100. Many grants are substantially higher. The amount of the maximum Crisis Grant also changes from year to year.

If you are dissatisfied you can request a Fair Hearing through the local welfare department. You have 30 days to file this appeal.  3/11

If you need to consult with an attorney, please contact the Erie County Bar Association's Lawyer Referral Service.