Assistance is available for Ohioans who need help paying their energy bills this winter.
It’s true: heating your home may cost more this winter. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration 2022 Winter Fuels Outlook, all residential customers should expect to pay more for heat this winter. How much more depends on which source you use to heat your home:
|Winter heating costs by source|
|Heating source||Percentage of homes in U.S.||Predicted price increase|
Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration 2022 Winter Fuels Outlook
Why the rise in prices? Predicted increases are the result of higher fuel prices, inflation and higher heating demand due to forecasted slightly colder weather than last winter.
On average, it will cost $931 to heat homes with natural gas this winter and $1,359 for electricity users. When it comes to managing these costs, consumers have several options. Below are just a few of the many solutions available:
A wide variety of assistance programs are available for eligible Ohioans to help pay their utility bills. Such programs can provide one-time payments, adjust monthly costs or reduce energy use. Many of these programs are administered by the Ohio Department of Development and local energy assistance providers; you can check your eligibility and get started at energyhelp.ohio.gov.
- Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP)
HEAP pays a one-time payment for home heating for income-eligible Ohioans. HEAP can be used for both utility bills and bulk fuel purchases.
- Home Weatherization Assistance Program (HWAP)
This program reduces low-income households’ energy use, thus saving more on their bills. Available services can include insulation, heating system replacements or repairs, air leakage reduction and more. All measures provided are based on an on-site energy audit.
- Percentage of Income Payment Plan (PIPP Plus)
PIPP Plus helps make monthly payments more affordable on a year-round basis and can erase old debt with on-time and in-full payments. This year, more Ohioans are eligible to participate in PIPP Plus due to increased income thresholds. See income guidelines here.
- Special Reconnect Order
The order allows residential customers, at any income level, who are disconnected or are threatened with disconnection to pay a maximum amount of $175 to have their service restored or maintained.
Budgeting can help you manage your bills by spreading high costs or past-due payments across multiple months.
- Extended payment plans
PUCO-regulated natural gas and electric companies have extended payment plans available to help you to make affordable payments and maintain service. Payment plans can divide costs into 3, 6 or 9 monthly payments.
- Budget billing
Budget billing spreads out the cost of energy used during high-demand times of the year. Instead of seeing an increase in winter heating bills, budget billing breaks down total yearly usage into manageable monthly bills.
Other programs may be available based on your local utility or personal circumstances:
HeatShare programs are administered by the Salvation Army to help qualifying households pay for natural gas bills.
- Electric Partnership Program
The Electric Partnership Program is a home weatherization plan for customer who are at or below the 150 percent of the federal poverty levels, have high energy use and reside in certain utilities’ service areas.
- Patriot Plan
The Patriot Plan provides protections and benefits to military personnel and their families. The plan can assist qualifying customers with maintaining utility service while serving on active duty.
Changing your plan with energy choice
Remember that you can always choose your energy supplier, which is the company that provides the generation portion of your electricity or the supply portion of your natural gas. Suppliers can offer a variety of plans with different rates, term lengths and offers. If you find a plan that fits your preferences, be sure to ask the supplier these key questions before entering a contract. Remember, some assistance programs may be incompatible with energy choice.
Your local utility will still deliver the electric or natural gas and maintain wires, poles and pipes.
Visit EnergyChoice.Ohio.gov to see and compare all the options available in your area.
For more information or application details about any of these programs, contact the PUCO either by phone at 800-686-7826 or online through our contact form.