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Energy assistance programs and how they work

By Tiffany Reynolds

Everyone needs energy to live comfortably and sustainably. However, not everyone has the same budget. Lower-income households often have to focus on paying rent and buying food. Standard energy costs might be too high, but their homes still need heat in the winter and air conditioning in the summer. Their homes still need electricity so that they can go about their days.

That’s why there are energy assistance programs to ensure that lower-income households can still afford the energy they need. At Power Wizard, we aim to empower you by helping you find the best energy rates possible. We can even help you find an energy assistance program that suits your budget.

What are energy assistance programs?

Energy assistance programs can help people meet their energy needs in the short term and offer education to help them lower their energy costs in the long term. These programs are offered to lower-income households who cannot afford the standard costs of their basic energy needs, particularly elderly or disabled households, who are often the most vulnerable on the hottest and coldest days. In the case of an energy crisis, such as a supply shortage or severe storm, energy assistance programs can also offer relief.

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Texas residents may be able to take advantage of the government-offered  Comprehensive Energy Assistance Program (CEAP). If you are eligible for CEAP, Power Wizard can help you apply and find the best rates for your situation.

How does a low-income energy assistance program work?

If you are eligible for CEAP, you can request assistance for your utility bill six times per year, or eight times for households with vulnerable members (such as elderly or disabled household members). It’s best to make use of this during the times of the year when your energy bills will be the highest. Then you can take care of the lower bills yourself. CEAP can also offer financial assistance if you need to repair your heating or cooling systems.

In addition to financial assistance, CEAP offers energy workshops and financial education. These programs are designed to help empower lower-income households so that they have more financial independence in the future with regard to their energy bills. CEAP also offers assistance in the midst of energy crisis situations.

First, however, there are eligibility requirements you must meet.

Household eligibility requirements

CEAP is designed to assist households with lower income, so you must meet a certain threshold in order to be eligible. In addition, you must be a legal resident of Texas in order to receive CEAP assistance. Income requirements depend on the size of your household. The maximum pretax household income amounts are:

  • Household of 1: $20,385
  • Household of 2: $27,465
  • Household of 3: $34,545
  • Household of 4: $41,625
  • Household of 5: $48,705
  • Household of 6: $55,785
  • Household of 7: $62,865
  • Household of 8: $69,945
  • Households of more than 8: add $7,080 for each additional person

Note: These numbers are subject to change. Please check the Texas CEAP website for the most update qualification.

It’s also worth noting that recipients of Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or some means-tested veterans programs will automatically be eligible for CEAP.

CEAP application requirements

In addition to household eligibility, you will need to fill out a CEAP application that offers proof of your residency and your income. The CEAP application functions much like other government applications. In addition to providing your information, you must offer documented proof. This might include bills, IDs, or mail delivered to your residence. The documentation falls under three different categories.

Proof of identity

The first thing you’ll need to prove is your identity. You can offer a photo ID, as well as Social Security cards for everyone who lives in the household. This will prove that you are who you say you are and that you aren’t committing fraud.

Proof of income

Next, you’ll need proof of income for all household members who are above 18 years of age. A pay stub, W-2, or bank statement may serve as proof of income. If anyone in the household receives Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF); SSI; Social Security, disability, or veterans benefits; child support; or unemployment benefits, you must document this as well.

Recent electric bills

You will need to offer a current utility bill as proof of your energy expenses. This should also serve as proof of residence, as it will list your address on the bill. In addition, you will need to offer a history of your utility usage over the past 12 months. You may be able to find this by accessing your account on the utility company’s website and looking through a history of your transactions or statements.

How are benefit amounts determined?

CEAP is part of the Lower Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), which is committed to ensuring that lower-income homes have the energy that they need. The Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs (TDHCA) distributes its funds to lower-income households for this purpose.

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The application helps ensure that only the people who need these benefits are able to receive them, and restrictions are set out in terms of how often these benefits can be accessed per year. As we discussed above, you can receive help for your energy bills:

  • Six times per year for eligible households
  • Eight times per year for eligible households with vulnerable household members

The funds can help with different types of energy bills, such as:

  • Electric bills
  • Propane bills
  • Natural gas bills
  • Replacing or repairing heating systems
  • Replacing or repairing cooling systems

There is a budget provided each year in order to determine the benefits for CEAP. If you have questions about your benefits, you can always contact the TDHCA or Power Wizard for assistance in getting the most out of your benefits.

Deadline for assistance applications

Worried about missing the deadline for your CEAP application? According to the state website, you can apply for CEAP energy assistance by contacting a local subrecipient agency or by going directly through the TDHCA website. There is no listed deadline for the energy assistance application, but it’s always a good idea to contact a local office to confirm this. The best time to reach your local office is on weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

As with any application, it’s a good idea to get a head start as soon as you can so that your eligibility can be confirmed and benefits can be granted as soon as possible. Power Wizard can also help you work through your application for CEAP or other energy assistance programs to ensure you receive the help you need. We can help you learn how to apply for energy assistance online or find additional Texas energy benefits.

Find out more ways to lower your monthly payment

Energy assistance programs are just one way to lower your monthly energy payments. You may also be working with an energy company that charges you too much, and there may be more affordable options out there. That’s where Power Wizard can help. If you enter your location and ZIP code, we can help you find custom energy options so that you can compare rates and choose the most manageable solution. Interested in getting started? Contact Power Wizard or become a member today!


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