Before your utilities are shut off, there are many things you can do to keep your electric service connected. We’ve found many options that can help you keep your utilities going, even after you’ve received a disconnection notice.
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00:24 Utility Disconnection Moratoriums
00:46 What to Ask Your Utility Provider
02:17 Community Action
03:34 Charitable Donations
04:05 How to Plan Ahead
05:36 Get More Help
Low Income Relief helps low income people across America save money and get free stuff. We do our best to connect everyone who needs help with benefits, programs and resources in their local communities. Discover more ways that you can get help at LowIncomeRelief.com.
Getting your utilities shut off can be a terrifying experience. If you’ve received a disconnect notice, don’t panic. We’ve found three things you can try before your utilities are shut off.
I’m Nicole from Low Income Relief, where we’ve helped millions of people save money and get free stuff every year.
Utility disconnects are a huge problem. In early October 2020, the Washington Post estimated that 179 million people across the United States were at risk for utility disconnection because some states did not enact moratoriums or sadly let those moratoriums expire in the cold winter months.
However, there are a few things you should try before your utilities are shut off.
FIRST, reach out to your utility company.
Even if you have no money to pay the bill, reach out to your utility company. I know it can be humiliating and awkward to admit that you don’t have the funds for your bill but it is critically important to keep that communication open.
When you call your utility company, ask these specific questions:
Do they have a fund to help low income customers pay their bills?
Do they partner with any community agencies to help customers pay their bills?
Do they have any hardship program to help people facing extenuating circumstances?
Will they provide you with an extension if you can prove that you are seeking assistance from charitable organizations?
There’s a chance that your provider will answer no to all of these questions, but that’s the worst they can do. The worst they can do is say no, and that’s certainly not worse than getting your utilities shut off without even trying.
However, our team has researched hundreds of utility companies across the United States and we’ve found that most of them will answer yes to at least one of these questions. Many providers maintain community partnerships and have funds for low income customers, but they usually will not offer this information unless you specifically ask about it.
When I reached out to our power company after we receive a $3,364 power bill in 2017, I was connected with many programs and partnerships that paid thousands of dollars toward our bill and also provided us with over $18,000 in free home improvements.
Reaching out to your power company is always the first step.
SECOND, reach out to your local Community Action agency.
There are Community Action organizations all across the United States. Yours might be called a community action agency, community action council, community action program, or something else entirely. At their core, these organizations exist to coordinate community resources and help people who are struggling.
Find yours by conducting a simple google search for “Community Action” (in quotes) and your city or county. Some of these agencies serve specific cities, while others serve multiple counties or even an entire region. It all depends on where you live.
In the course of our research, we’ve found that the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program is usually administered by Community Action Councils. This is an incredible federal program that helps low income households with home energy bills.
In addition, many Community Action providers also have access to additional resources and funding. If they don’t administer the programs themselves, they usually have a resource list that can connect you to other programs in your area. Be sure to mention any special criteria that may apply to you because there are often special funding sources available for veterans, domestic violence survivors, and other special groups.
For this and many other reasons, I highly recommend reaching out to your Community Action program before your utilities are shut off.
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