Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program

LIHEAP, Workers installing AC, stove, refrigerator, clothes dryer

​​​The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) provides assistance to eligible low-income households with the goal of managing and meeting their immediate home heating and/or cooling needs.

​What is LIHEAP and what services are available?

 LIHEAP is a federally funded program aimed at assisting low-income households that pay a high portion of their income to meet their energy needs. LIHEAP is funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Office of Community Services.

There are several portions of the program that help accomplish this goal, such as:

  • The Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) provides one-time financial assistance to help balance an eligible household's utility bill.

  • The Energy Crisis Intervention Program (ECIP) provides assistance to low-income households that are in a crisis situation. Such an example would be a household receiving a 24-48 hour disconnect notice or service termination by their utility company. Another example would be a household facing an energy-related crisis that could be deemed potentially life-threatening in the household, such as a combustible appliance.

  • LIHEAP Weatherization provides free energy efficiency upgrades to low-income households to lower their monthly utility bills while also improving the health and safety of the household's occupants.  

  • Education on basic energy efficiency practices and instruction on the proper use and maintenance of installed weatherization measures.

  • Energy budget counseling. 


Eligibility for services may vary depending on sources of income and other factors. Please contact your local energy agency to determine your eligibility.

View LIHEAP Income Eligibility Guidelines



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American Rescue P​​lan Act​

​​Co​ngress appropriated an additional $203 million for LIHEAP in California under the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (Public Law 117-2) to provide "additional relief to address the continued impact of COVID-19 (i.e., coronavirus disease 2019) on the economy, public health, state and local governments, individuals, and businesses." This supplemental funding was distributed to California’s network of 41 LIHEAP local ​service providers to augment existing LIHEAP services, with a focus on financial assistance to reduce energy bills and arrearages for low-income households.  American Rescue Plan Act funds were used for utility assistance, to support households at risk of utility disconnection, in an energy emergency, and for services related to natural disasters and Public Safety Power Shutoff events.

Other Income Qualified Utility Assistance Programs NOT Administered by CSD​

  • California Alternate Rates for Energy (CARE) - Provides a 30-35% discount on your utility bill.
    • Low-income customers that are enrolled in the CARE program can potentially receive a 30-35 percent discount on their electric bill and potentially a 20 percent discount on their natural gas bill.     
  • The Family Electric Rate Assistance Program (FERA) - Bills some of your electricity usage at a lower rate.

    • Families whose household income slightly exceeds the CARE allowances will qualify to receive FERA discounts, which bills applies an 18% discount on their electricity bill. FERA is available for customers of Southern California Edison, San Diego Gas and Electric Company, and Pacific Gas and Electric Company. Call your electric utility if your family qualifies.  

                 Click here fo​​r more information about CARE and FERA 

  • Energy Savings Assistance Program - Provides no-cost weatherization services.

    • The Energy Savings Assistance Program (ESA) provides no-cost weatherization services to low-income households who meet the CARE income guidelines. Services provided include attic insulation, energy efficient refrigerators, energy efficient furnaces, weatherstripping, caulking, low-flow showerheads, water heater blankets, and door and building envelope repairs which reduce air infiltration.

                 Click here for more inform​ation about ESA

​LIHEAP Highlights

Helping to Heat a H​ome ​

Sandra M.,  of San Leandro, CA, is the first-born daughter of hard-working third-generation immigrants. Sandra joined the work force ​at 17 years old eventually working at Golden Grain Macaroni Company for 25 years. With her pension set in place and living in her family home, she was prepared to retire gracefully in the community that she grew up in.

However, the winter season of 2017 brought a shock. Sandra expressed, “How could I have an energy bill of over $100! I live alone! … [I was] petrified to turn my heater on and have to pay another $100 for heat!” She felt trapped between either feeling cold in her home or paying a utility bill worth almost 10 percent of her net income. Later that winter, the g​as was turned off to her range, leaving her with just a microwave for cooking.

Fortunately, Sandra's friends recommended that she contact Spectrum Community Services (Spectrum), the agency that administers the LIHEAP program for Alameda County. Spectrum was able to offer to assess Sandra's home for energy efficiency improvements and discovered her old forced-air unit heated her attic more than her home, and that she had air leaks which caused drafts throughout her entire house. 

Spectrum was able to step in and have subcontractors install a new forced-air unit, ducts, floor insulation, and perform a water heater flue repair. Spectrum was even able to order her a new gas range that arrived two days before Easter dinner, leaving her “tickled to death for a stove that is too pretty to use.” She finally felt she had her home back. Sandra plans to pay that kindness forward by volunteering with Spectrum in the future.​​​


"Donna inspecting new thermostat installed by LIHEAP." 

Early Retirement Brought Financial Hardship

“We have gone through our savings just trying to stay afloat. Without LIHEAP, we would be forced to live in a home without heat, worsening my medical condition, [forcing ​us] to sell our home of over 20 years.” - Donna V.

The rising cost of living in Santa Clara County is surpassing the amount of monthly income received for the most vulnerable in our communities. Particularly, it impacts households with fixed incomes: the elderly, the disabled, and families with children. Donna's family consists of her and her husband, and they spend most of their fixed income on essentials. Because of the energy inefficiency of their home, a higher percentage of their household income goes towards energy related expenses.

Donna's family purchased their home over 20 years ago, and their original priority was fixated on raising their children. After 30 years of employment, Donna made a decision to take an early retirement due to a knee injury. Her husband retired soon thereafter to care for his wife. They did not factor into their budget that they would need to use their savings to pay for their basic needs, which caused them to postpone any needed home repairs. The lack of repairs made their home less energy efficient and inflated their bill during extreme weather.

Making any upgrades to their home would require upfront expenses they could not afford, and it did not seem like an option worth pursuing. Donna states that paying high-energy bills was a financial burden and a “slow bleeding” of their resources, one they could afford in monthly installments. However, in qualifying for a utility payment credit through LIHEAP, Donna states, “I now use the money I don’t have to pay to the utility company for medical co-pays, food, insurance, gas, phone, water, and taxes.”

Donna's home also benefitted from the LIHEAP Weatherization Program. After performing an energy audit to address energy use and improvements, Sacred Heart Community Service (SHCS), installed a heater, LED light bulbs, carbon monoxide detectors, smoke alarms, a hot water flow restrictor, an ADA low-flow toilet to accommodate Donna's knee and hip conditions, and an energy efficient exhaust fan, just to name a few. And with some additional tips provided by the SHCS installers on how to conserve energy, Donna states her utility payment credit will extend over several months, allowing her to focus on improving her health and enjoying the improved conditions in her home. She adds that having a new furnace also means that she will not have to buy wood for her fireplace (an additional and costly expense) to keep warm and stay healthy in the winter.

Assistance to Prevent Service Disconnection

"Without CAP San Bernardino's help, my SoCal Gas services would have been disconnected." - Teresa E.​

Teresa E. is a disabled senior living on a fixed income. Community Action Partnership of San Bernardino County (CAP San Bernardino) was able to prevent her gas services from being interrupted by scheduling her an emergency appointment through  LIHEAP Fast Track Services. Teresa lives in the Morongo Basin area of San Bernardino County, where it becomes very cold in the winter. This requires her to use more gas during the winter months than normal compared to the rest of the year. With the help of CAP San Bernardino's LIHEAP Fast Track program, Teresa was able to heat her home without worrying about how she was going to pay for it.

CAP San Bernardino also provides outreach services and events to the communities that are in rural and hard to reach areas of San Bernardino County. This allows them to serve clients that might be a challenge to reach due to distance and/or ecological issues in their region. Their mission is to work with their communities by supporting, advocating for, and empowering residents to achieve self-reliance and economic security.



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