Feeling the stress of high energy bills? New programs help lower costs

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(BPT) - Soaring energy prices equate to rising energy bills for households nationwide. This is a burden in particular for low-income people on a tight budget. No one should have to go without the energy necessary to heat and power their home, and now, thanks to numerous programs and incentives, there are more options to keep costs down for those that need it most.

This fall, you can make a change for yourself and others on ENERGY STAR Day, an annual celebration of the benefits of energy efficiency, including saving energy, money and protecting the planet. Consider these opportunities to make energy efficiency upgrades and help lower your energy bills and save money. Learn about these and other ways to save energy and money at energystar.gov/SaveForGood.

Rebates and tax incentives

Through rebates and tax incentives, ENERGY STAR certified products like heat pump water heaters, clean heating and cooling, and household appliances are becoming more affordable while enabling customers to save on their monthly energy bills. For example, ENERGY STAR certified heat pumps are eligible for a $300 federal income tax credit for residential energy efficiency, plus rebates and incentives from local utilities in many areas.

Ultra-efficient upgrades

When upgrading heating and cooling elements of the home, look for options with superior efficiency. Heat pumps, for instance, are more efficient than furnaces or boilers and serve double duty with heating and cooling, making them usable year-round. Combine heat pumps with other high-impact energy-efficiency improvements for an ENERGY STAR Home Upgrade to achieve significant energy and cost savings while transitioning from fossil fuels to a cleaner, healthier, more comfortable home.

Support from local utilities

Local utilities may offer energy efficiency upgrade support for low-income customers. When available, these programs typically include a home energy assessment accompanied by direct install of energy-saving devices including ENERGY STAR certified smart thermostats. Eligibility is usually based on household size and income in relation to a percentage threshold above the Federal Poverty Level or Area Medium Income (AMI). Depending on where you live, these programs may be working with state agencies who provide low-income services more broadly.

Weatherization assistance programs

Each U.S. state offers a Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) available for households that qualify (such as those that already qualify for Supplemental Security Income, Aid to Families with Dependent Children, and other income eligibility criteria). This program includes a home energy assessment and help with weatherization upgrades, like attic insultation, and fixing or replacing old water heaters.

Low-income assistance programs

The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) offers help with home repairs and upgrades based on household size and income. For example, a four-person household with an annual income of $39,750 would qualify for LIHEAP and could get a replacement for a broken heating and cooling system through this program.

The typical household spends nearly $1,900 a year on energy bills. With ENERGY STAR appliances, you can save 24% or about $450 in household energy costs while helping prevent climate change. Those savings are on top of assistance programs, rebates and tax incentives that help keep every home comfortable while staying on budget. Learn more at energystar.gov/SaveForGood.