With the holidays here and the cost of basic necessities continuing to rise, the Low-income Energy Assistance Program (LEAP) is helping eligible Colorado households save money by paying a portion of home heating bills and offering tips to save on heating costs.
LEAP, a statewide program, helps keep Coloradans warm during the winter months by making a one-time payment directly to the utility company on behalf of each eligible household. Since November 1, almost 60,000 Coloradans have applied for LEAP, a seven percent increase over 2021. This season, the average benefit is $440.
According to the National Energy Assistance Directors Association, the cost of heating bills is up 18 percent this season and that is in addition to the 17 percent increase last winter.
In addition to applying for LEAP, there are other steps that can be taken to help lower heating bills. Coloradans can ensure their home's furnace is ready for winter by having it inspected by a professional and changing the furnace filter every three months during the winter months. Sealing gaps around doors and windows can also help keep in the heat on cold days. Following a home energy audit, LEAP recipients may be eligible for emergency furnace repair and replacement, and weatherization services.
To qualify for LEAP, Coloradans may have an income up to 60 percent of the state median income level, which equates to a household income of less than $66,468 a year for a family of four. Additionally, LEAP recipients must pay home heating costs directly to a utility company or landlord as part of their rent and have at least one U.S. citizen or permanent legal resident of the U.S. living in the household.
Currently, LEAP recipients may also qualify for the Low-Income Household Water Assistance Program (LIHWAP), which is a temporary program that is part of the American Rescue Plan Act. LIHWAP provides funds to make a one-time payment to the water vendor directly on behalf of eligible households who are facing eviction due to unpaid water bills or whose account is either in arrears or shut off, as long as funding is available and the water vendor is a LIHWAP participant.
To access the LEAP application, visit cdhs.colorado.gov/LEAP. Online applications are processed through the Colorado PEAK system. You can also call the HEAT HELP line at 1-866-HEAT-HELP (1-866-432-8435) to receive an application via mail or email or visit your county human services office to pick up or drop off an application. In Kiowa County, call 719-438-5541 or pick up applications at Kiowa County Department of Social Services at 1307 Maine Street in Eads.