As temperatures rise and Connecticut residents rely heavily on air conditioning in their homes, AARP Connecticut seeks to educate consumers on how to prepare for, and protect against, the increasing costs of electricity and other utility expenses.
“With humidity and temperatures escalating, no one should have to worry about how to stay cool – and safe – this summer,” said AARP Connecticut State Director Nora Duncan.
With an increase for Connecticut’s electric standard service generation rate going into effect on July 1, AARP Connecticut is raising awareness among consumers on how they can best prepare their homes for extremely warm weather and higher utility bills. AARP also encourages participation in assistance and weatherization programs that are available to many residents.
“Utility rates are an essential pocketbook issue for all Connecticut residents, especially those 50-plus,” said Duncan. “Too often, older residents must choose between paying their utility bill and other necessities such as prescription medicine. The summer weather – not unlike the winter heating season – is going to be a challenge. Knowing where to go for assistance is more important than ever.”
AARP Connecticut offers the following tips and information to help with utility expenses in Connecticut.
Apply for Home Energy Assistance
Low-income customers may be eligible to receive heating assistance benefits via the Connecticut Energy Assistance Program (CEAP), which extended the application deadline to June 30, 2022. In addition, households that heat with deliverable fuels like oil or propane may be eligible for multiple free tank fills.
Residents can learn more about CEAP, including a variety of additional programs available, on the Connecticut Department of Social Services (portal.ct.gov/DSS) homepage and the process to apply for utility assistance by visiting the CEAP application site (portal.ct.gov/heatinghelp/applyonline). Residents can also contact their local Community Action Agency (CAA) with questions or if they prefer to apply in-person or over the phone.
Protection from Shut-Off Due to Medical Condition
Customers who need power to their home because of a medical condition can ask for their doctor to certify that the patient or a family member has a “serious illness” or “life threatening condition” on the utility internet portal.
- Customers with a “serious illness” cannot be shut off during the winter shut-off moratorium from November 1 to May 1, each year.
- Customers with a “life threatening condition” may not be shut off during the period that a doctor has certified the protection is needed. The doctor may have to re-certify a customer’s eligibility for shut-off protection at least once per year.
- Medical shut-off protections, which may require a payment agreement with the provider, do not relieve customers of their responsibility to pay utility bills, but prevents the threat of shut-off for nonpayment during the protected period.
COVID-19 Payment Plans
COVID-19 payment plans are available through June 30 to any customer requesting financial assistance to facilitate repayment of past due balances as well as the current monthly bill. These plans do not require a down payment or demonstration of financial need, can be up to 24 months in length, and waive any fees or interest in the calculation of the monthly payment amount. Consumers can contact their utility providers to learn more about the specific payment plans.
Matching Payment Plan (MPP)
The Matching Payment Plan (MPP) is available to eligible electric (heat) and gas (heat) customers. Residents can find more information or apply for MPP, which can be year-round, through the local Community Action Agencies. Additional details:
- A customer applies for CEAP energy assistance. The utility provider matches CEAP energy assistance and will also match the customer’s completed monthly payments.
- An affordable monthly budget payment for the customer is determined (may be as low as $50) and the customer must make a minimum number of monthly payments.
Check Eligibility for Assistance Programs
Customers can contact their electric and natural gas distribution companies to learn more about company-specific assistance that may be available. Some utilities have customer assistance, usage reduction, and hardship programs, which may be run by community organizations.
Enroll in Budget Billing
To avoid seasonal increases and other price spikes, some utility companies allow customers to spread costs throughout the year by basing monthly payments on a household’s annual usage. Residents should contact their electric and natural gas companies for more information.
Home Energy Solutions
Taking steps to improve the energy efficiency of the home can be an easy way to lower an energy bill that’s also good for the environment, and even make the home more comfortable. Home Energy Solutions offers on-the-spot services to homeowners and renters for immediate savings. Home Energy Solutions, available to eligible customers at no-cost for a limited time, empowers residents with suggestions and resources for deeper savings that may include up to 100% off approved insulation projects that were recommended during the visit. Additional information about this program and more can be found at energizect.com/your-home/find-a-solution.
With a primary purpose to provide year-round emergency energy assistance to every city and town in Connecticut, Operation Fuel (operationfuel.org/gethelp) fills the gap for our state’s most vulnerable residents – children, senior citizens, working families, and people with chronic medical conditions. Before applying for Operation Fuel assistance, customers need to gather proof of the last four weeks of income for all household members, the name of their fuel vendor (for deliverable fuel customers), or a utility bill and payment history (for electric, gas, and water customers).