What Support Can I Receive with My Energy Costs?
This year has thrown a lot of curveballs. Many families that felt financially stable at the beginning of the year have lost that sense of security, and many of the new challenges that arose in 2020 have hit those who were already fighting to make ends meet the hardest. The Compact and its fellow Mass Save® Sponsors recognize that, for many households, energy costs have become an even greater burden as a result of the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, and we know this burden may increase as we enter the cold New England winter season.
The Compact is committed to helping our customers lessen this burden by connecting you to energy efficiency services, fuel assistance, flexible energy bill payment plans, and more. In this blog, we outline resources and services for households that are eligible for assistance with energy costs, and we always welcome our customers to reach us directly at 800-797-6699 for additional guidance.
Income-Eligible Energy Efficiency Services
For homeowners and renters who meet certain income guidelines (see table below), the Compact offers income-eligible energy services. All Compact residential customers can complete a no-cost home energy assessment, receive no-cost LED bulbs and low-flow water fixtures, and take advantage of rebates on a range of energy-saving technologies and home improvements; eligible households may also receive insulation, air sealing, and additional weatherization at no-cost.
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If your household income falls under 60% of the median area income, the Compact partners with the Housing Assistance Corporation to offer an Enhanced Residential Program, which provides additional services, including, in some instances, no-cost appliance upgrades. Based on the efficiency of existing equipment, the program may offer to upgrade old clothes washers, window air conditioners, and portable dehumidifiers to ENERGY STAR® certified models at no cost, as well as provide no-cost heating system repair or replacement. In addition, the Compact connects participants in this program to resources for fuel assistance and reduced utility rates.
Each of these incentives and services provides a means to help you enhance comfort, reduce energy use, and save on energy costs. The use of more modern, efficient technology also provides the added benefit of lowering environmental and public health risk exposure – such as poor indoor air quality or inadequate heating and cooling – which often disproportionately affects low-income households.
Especially as we approach the coldest months of the year, no one should be left worrying whether they can afford to heat their home. For that reason, the Compact partners with the South Shore Community Action Council (SSCAC) to provide fuel assistance to eligible households. SSCAC’s Fuel Assistance Program helps eligible households cover a portion of the heating bill. Households submit an application, with program eligibility determined based on household income, size, and heating costs. When your application is approved, SSCAC receives funding through the federal Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) and covers a portion of your winter heating bills each month.
Support with Energy Bill Payments
Compact customers may be eligible to receive discounts on electric rates or gas rates from their utility, too. Eversource offers discounted electric rates of 36% off for income-qualified customers, while National Grid offers discounted gas rates of 25% off for eligible households. In addition, Eversource and National Grid regularly receive updates on households newly-approved for fuel assistance, for whom the utilities will automatically apply these discounted rates.
If you’re still struggling to keep up with energy expenses, Eversource and National Grid also provide flexible payment plans and payment forgiveness. If you have missed payments, Eversource and National Grid will work with you to create a manageable payment plan to help make up an overdue amount, without worrying about service shut-offs. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, customers can, for a limited-time, establish plans that extend up to 12 months, with no down payment needed.
Finally, if you cannot pay off outstanding balances, both utilities also offer payment forgiveness programs. Eversource operates a New Start program where customers agree to a monthly payment plan which, if adhered to, results in a monthly reduction in the past due balance, until eliminated. National Grid operates a similar Forgiveness Program for gas customers.
General Financial Assistance
In addition to the resources described above, there are several organizations around the Cape and Islands that may be able to assist with meeting monthly expenses, especially as households deal with the increased financial burdens brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Lower Cape Outreach Council, Cape Cod Times Needy Fund, and Falmouth Service Center support households with energy, rent or mortgage, healthcare, food, and other expenses, while the Housing Assistance Corporation provides financial assistance with rent and mortgage payments to prevent evictions and homelessness.
How to Learn More
If you are facing financial hardship this season and still wondering what the best options are for your household, the Compact is here to connect you to resources and services that can aid you through this challenging time. We welcome you to contact one of our representatives at 800-797-6699 or email@example.com to get started.