(Des Moines) – The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) recently released its 2022 winter fuels outlook and expects most U.S. households will pay more to heat their homes this winter, forecasting consumers could spend as much as 28% more for natural gas and 10% more for electricity compared to last year. With the changing seasons and colder temperatures, the Iowa Utilities Board (IUB) is reminding vulnerable Iowans that limited financial heating assistance is available to income-eligible utility customers through the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP).

The annual application period runs from November 1, 2022, through April 30, 2023. 

The LIHEAP program is federally funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and is designed to help low-income homeowners and renters pay a portion of their primary home heating costs through a one-time payment made directly to the utility or heating fuel vendor. LIHEAP in Iowa is administered by the Iowa Department of Human Rights and local community action agencies. During fiscal year 2021, more than 74,600 Iowa households received LIHEAP funding to assist with a portion of their heating costs, with an average statewide heating assistance benefit of approximately $455.

Under LIHEAP or the weatherization assistance program, Iowa law protects qualified applicants who are the head of a household from being disconnected from natural gas or electric service from November 1 through April 1. Although qualified applicants cannot be disconnected during the annual winter moratorium, the IUB urges all LIHEAP-certified customers to continue paying toward their energy bills through the winter to avoid accumulating high debt and facing potential utility service disconnection in the spring.

Eligibility for the federally funded LIHEAP program is based on household size and income, type of fuel, and type of housing. Interested applicants should review the federal income guidelines, then apply at the community action agency serving their area. Heating assistance dollars for LIHEAP and the weatherization assistance program are limited.

For assistance, utility customers should contact their local community action agency and notify their utility company. If customers have concerns about their utility company or service, they may also file a complaint about their utility by contacting the IUB Customer Service staff at 877-565-4450 or customer@iub.iowa.gov.

Learn more on the IUB’s LIHEAP webpage, or through the Iowa Department of Human Rights online at humanrights.iowa.gov/dcaa/liheap or call 515-281-3861.