More older adults are choosing to age at home than ever before, so the government has developed several programs to help them stay warm with heat in the winter and cool with air conditioning in the summer. 

Here are 5 government programs designed to help those who are having trouble with the costs of their utilities.

5 Money Saving Energy Assistance Programs to Help Older Adults 600@2x5 Money Saving Energy Assistance Programs to Help Older Adults 600@2x

The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program

The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), sponsored by The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration for Children and Families, provides assistance to families in times of need for home cooling, weatherization, and/or energy-related low-cost home repairs. However, this is a grant-based program, which means that once the funds are spent for the year, the program cannot offer assistance again until the following year. 

But don’t worry – there are other options.

Weatherization Assistance Program 

If LIHEAP is not available, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) also has a Weatherization Assistance Program, which provides grants to improve the energy efficiency of the homes of low-income families. Any household that receives Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families is eligible for weatherization assistance. DOE guidelines also require states to give priority to the elderly, persons with disabilities, families with children, and families with high energy burdens or high energy usage. 

The home is audited by an inspector who will make specific recommendations that may include installing insulation, sealing windows and doors, and upgrading heating and cooling systems. Things like new roofing, siding, or structural improvements are not covered. 

The average expenditure is $6,500 per home, but the homeowner won’t pay anything. Fixes are usually completed in a day or two. DOE estimates households save an average $283 a year on their heating and cooling costs. 

Learn more about the Weatherization Assistance Program here.

Ratepayer-Funded Programs

There also are programs, funded through charges assessed on all or some commercial, industrial, and residential consumers, which provide bill payment assistance or energy efficiency services to low-income households. Applicants should contact their utility company directly for eligibility requirements and information on how to apply. Find a list of ratepayer-funded programs by state here

State and Local Funds 

Some states and counties use general assistance, emergency assistance, local tax revenues or similar funds to supplement their federal LIHEAP funding. These funds help low-income families pay for fuel, utilities, HVAC repairs or other charges. Some also are designed to keep utilities from being shut off.

Find out if this can benefit you and links to your state’s energy assistance director here.  

Private Fuel Funds 

Private fuel funds raise corporate or private monies to help low-income households. Fuel funds often help families in crisis or those who otherwise might not be able to take advantage of LIHEAP, enabling them to pay their energy bills or purchase fuel oil, wood, and coal. 
See if your area offers a fuel fund by contacting your state’s energy department.  


If you are interested in receiving more tips like this, sign up for The Kindred Spirit newsletter. We’ll send tips on navigating healthcare, caring for a loved one and healthy aging.  

Additional Resources 

The following programs also are available to help those in need:

By Craig Layne