Struggling to afford your utility bill? Explore these options.
Posted on: March 31, 2020
During this uncertain time, millions of families across the United States are facing unemployment and financial instability for the first time. Whether their financial stress is related to the COVID-19 crisis or other economic issues, Dollar Energy Fund is committed to remaining a resource for families in need. Our mission is more important now than at any other time in our 37 year history.
Contact Your Utility Company
This week, the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PA PUC) is urging households across the state to explore the many options available to help keep their monthly utility bills affordable.
Utilities are committed to working with consumers to address these challenging circumstances – but they need to hear directly from families and businesses who are experiencing problems so they can begin those individual conversations about what resources and options are available.
Although the PUC has temporarily paused payment-related utility terminations, it is important for consumers to understand that any past due bills or delinquent balances that remain after the current public health emergency has passed will be handled according to the rules of the individual utilities and consistent with Commission policy. Under this moratorium, your utility usage will continue to be collected by your utility company and you will be responsible for charges associated with your usage. It is important to work directly with your utility company to get a plan in place if you need assistance now, but it will also minimize future financial challenges when the emergency has passed.
Here are some tips and assistance options for families experiencing financial difficulties:
- Contact your utility company directly. Discuss your financial situation with your utilities before bills become delinquent. Many of our utility partners, along with their government oversight entities, are temporarily modifying their guidelines and policies to allow for leniency towards customers facing utility service terminations. If you did not qualify for CAP programs before, you may be eligible now. Your utility company will provide you with the latest information regarding how this situation effects their customers. Assistance options could include extended payment plans, budget billing, and hardship grants.
- Paying your utility bill is still required. If you are able, pay your bill in full and on time to minimize the chance of a future termination notice and other financial challenges once the pandemic is over.
- If you are unable to make your payment due to sudden loss of income related to COVID-19, please contact your utility company immediately.
- If your income has recently been reduced, utility companies encourage you to make a payment of any amount during this time.
- Apply for federal programs, such as LIHEAP. The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program helps families living on low incomes pay their heating bills in the form of a cash grant. Households in immediate danger of being without heat can also qualify for crisis grants. View LIHEAP guidelines for your state here.
- Explore energy conservation tips. More people are working remotely and spending their entire day at home. This can have a notable impact on your energy usage. Energy conservation and home weatherization should be a priority to keep utility bills affordable. Here are a few websites that can offer information and tips for saving energy:
Dollar Energy Fund
Dollar Energy Fund has taken steps to ensure our Hardship Program will continue, regardless of any concerns with limited staff resources or potential closures of our office. We have also initiated measures to ensure the continuity of the other services we provide, including enrollments in Customer Assistance Programs. Our organization is adjusting as we transition some of our employees to a work-from-home environment. Due to these changes, customers calling into our customer contact center may experience longer-than-normal wait times.
Ways to Help Your Neighbors in Need
With many facing uncertain financial situations, Dollar Energy Fund anticipates a significant increase in demand for our services in the coming months. If you are able to help, please consider making a contribution through our online donation portal or by adding a donation of one dollar or more to your monthly utility bill.