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AARP AARP States Montana

Utility Assistance for Montanans: Home heating costs expected to skyrocket this winter

Worried Senior Man With Bill Turning Down Central Heating Thermo

Recent NorthWestern Energy rate hike could boost home energy bills by as much as 28%

The Montana Public Service Commission recently approved a new NorthWestern Energy rate structure that will go into effect in the fall of 2023 for electricity and natural gas customers.

Residential customers will see a 28% increase in bills as compared to August 2022, or an 8% increase since the commission approved an interim rate increase for Montana’s largest monopoly utility last fall.

Some Montana homeowners and renters may be eligible for assistance with utility costs. Below are links to programs available in Montana.

The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)
LIHEAP is a federally funded program that helps an estimated 6 million low-income households each year with heating bills. The program can also help with cooling costs in the summer. You may apply for assistance at any time during the year by contacting the local eligibility office  or Tribal LIHEAP office serving your community. Click on "local eligibility office" to access phone numbers.  If you cannot reach your local eligibility office, call Montana's toll-free number at 1-833-317-1080.

    The State of Montana, through the Department of Public Health and Human Services, offers three programs aimed at helping eligible Montanans.

    • The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) pays part of winter energy bills and may be able to assist with furnace emergencies for eligible people. 
    • The Low Income Home Water Assistance Program (LIHWAP)  helps pay a portion of eligible household's water bills; helps avoid shutoffs; and helps support household water system reconnections related to non-payment.  
    • The Weatherization Assistance Program helps participants to improve the heating efficiency of their homes and thus reduce their energy consumption. 

    Assistance offered by Montana Utilities
    Most of the utility, electric, and gas companies that operate in Montana administer financial assistance or weatherization programs. They can help people save money, or provide financial support for paying bills. Some of the programs can complement the federal government Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, so customers can gain access to additional financial support.

    Below are links to more information on the options you have, as well as who to contact for help.

      Energy Share of Montana
      Energy Share is a private nonprofit organization with the goal of helping Montanans faced with energy emergencies meet their needs. Often, families face a financial emergency when unexpected expenses occur, for example, medical expenses. The primary way Energy Share helps people is through one–time heating bill assistance. To find out more about Energy Share, call 1-888-779-7589 or log onto

      Energy Star
      You could save up to 30% on annual utility costs with the purchase of Energy Star products and appliances.  To learn more about this money saving strategy, check out

      Federal and State Tax Credits

      Montana Homeowner Assistance Fund
      The American Rescue Plan Act passed by Congress and signed by the president contains $9.961 billion nationwide for a Homeowner Assistance Fund (HAF). That funding will help Montana homeowners, and homeowners across the country, remain in their homes.

      Assistance for Homeowners on Propane
      Propane is not regulated in the State of Montana as a public utility because it is assumed that homeowners have a choice of where they can receive their propane. Make sure you're getting the best rate by comparing prices from suppliers in your area. Use this "Where to Buy" tool from the Rocky Mountain Propane Association to compare prices: Where to Buy Propane in your area >>

      Other Utility Assistance:

      • Lifeline and Link-Up Telephone Assistance. The Lifeline telephone discount program provides eligible telephone subscribers certain discounts on the basic monthly telephone service charge. The Link-Up program provides eligible consumers a discount on the hook-up fee. Eligible subscribers living on or near tribal lands may qualify for additional discounts. Contact your phone company or internet provider for details on applying. Once qualified, the Lifeline program requires that eligibility be recertified annually. More Information: Visit
      • The Emergency Broadband Benefit is an FCC program to help families and households struggling to afford internet service during the COVID-19 pandemic. This new benefit will connect eligible households to jobs, critical healthcare services, virtual classrooms, and so much more. Visit
      About AARP Montana
      Contact information and more from your state office. Learn what we are doing to champion social change and help you live your best life.