Don’t forget about heating assistance

The start of November means the start of a program that’s brought cold-weather comfort to millions of people — including some here in Pennsylvania.

You might know it as LIHEAP, though its full formal name is the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program.

It’s a federally funded program that helps people pay their electric or other heating bills during the winter months. LIHEAP application season starts at the beginning of November and ends at the beginning of April each year.

You don’t need to have an overdue bill to qualify. You can apply for help online, by mail or in person. And you can get help whether you’re a homeowner or a renter, as long as you meet income eligibility guidelines based on the size of your household.

The winter months can be a stressful time, in between the hassles of cold weather and the pressures of the holidays.

A utility bill shouldn’t become another worry.

If you qualify for LIHEAP, or just want to find out more about it, you have several options. You can call the toll-free LIHEAP hotline at 1-866-857-7095; contact your county assistance office; or visit LIHEAP is only one of several programs available to help people in PPL Electric Utilities’ service territory who may be having trouble paying their electric bills.

Another example is Operation HELP, which offers cash grants for heating bills, is funded by donations from PPL employees, customers and the company, and has helped more than 91,000 families since 1983.

There’s OnTrack, a payment plan program that lowers customers’ bills. We work with agencies throughout our area to offer this service. There’s also the Winter Relief Assistance Program, or WRAP, which offers free home weatherization services that can help you use less energy. Now is also a good time to consider budget billing, as well. This program averages your energy use over 12 months and charges you a level, predictable amount each month based on that average. This helps reduce seasonal highs and lows in your bill. For more information about these other programs, visit

If the approach of winter brings on concern about utility costs, please check out these programs. They’re there to help, and they’ve helped many people.

They can help your winter be a season of warmth, not a season of worry.

Teri MacBride is a PPL Electric Utilities regional affairs director. Email her at