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Free Air Conditioner From HEAP

Written by: Jody Adams
Last updated: January 31, 2024

The New York state government created the Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) to assist lower-income households with their energy costs. Under normal conditions, households can get at least one HEAP benefit each year, but in emergencies, households can get multiple benefits per year. The Cooling Assistance Program, targeting eligible low-income households and vulnerable individuals with a medical condition, is part of the HEAP program, which provides free air conditioners to households whose occupants suffer from heat-related health conditions.

The Cooling Assistance Program is only available to households that meet the normal HEAP criteria and have a member with a heat-sensitive medical condition. Developers and architects working on affordable housing should inform their tenants, including eligible households based on monthly income and household size, about the program.

What is HEAP?

A grant program from the federal and state governments, the Home Energy Assistance Program provides low-income households with assistance with heating, cooling, weatherization, and energy-related home repairs, including minor repairs to enhance energy efficiency services. Moreover, it aids in heating costs during the winter months, a period when New Yorkers experience high energy demands. It also offers funds for cooling costs, beneficial during periods of extreme heat. However, there are concerns that the benefits might be inadequate to address the burgeoning cooling needs spurred by climate change effects in urban areas.

Amounts up to $800 are currently available through HEAP to provide air conditioning units or fans to households, including apartments. However, this does not factor in the electricity cost incurred from utilizing such appliances. With New Yorkers grappling with high energy bills, there is a call for the program to include support to offset the additional electric service charges.

In addition to the regular weatherization program, special programs are available to landlords who own buildings where at least 60 percent of the dwellings are low-income units. However, this weatherization does not include one thing: installing more energy-efficient cooling systems that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and make the system more energy-efficient. It is time for New Yorkers to apply for HEAP cooling benefits starting May 1st and will be available on a first-come, first-serve basis until August 31st - or until the funds have been exhausted, whichever comes first.

Who is Eligible?

If one of the household members has a heat-exacerbated illness and meets the income requirements, the household is eligible. People who are currently participating or have family members who are participating in certain other program benefits, such as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), or certain needs-tested Veteran benefits may be automatically eligible for these benefits.

Cooling Assistance Program

The 2021-2022 Cooling Assistance program opened for applications on May 2, 2022, with a provision for one Cooling Assistance benefit per applicant household. The program facilitates the purchase and installation of an air conditioner or fan to alleviate the extreme heat during summer. Portable air conditioners might be an option where safe installation of regular air conditioners isn't feasible.

Each household can avail of appliances worth up to $800, excluding installation costs, with no provision for additional cash benefits. The benefit amounts vary based on several factors, including whether:

  • If your household income falls below the household income guidelines for your size, then you may qualify for assistance.
  • If you are receiving benefits under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
  • If you are eligible to receive Temporary Assistance (TA),
  • You will not be subject to taxes when you receive SSI Living Alone (Code A Supplemental Security Income).
  • As long as you have received a Regular benefit equal to $21 or greater during the current program year and reside in government-subsidized housing with heat included in your rent, and if you have received a Regular benefit greater than $21 or greater during the current program year, then you qualify for assistance.
  • In your household, at least one person is a citizen of the United States, or a qualified alien,
  • The air conditioner you currently have is not functioning, or it is older than five years old, or the air conditioner you do have is broken, and
  • You have not received HEAP funding to purchase an air conditioner in the past five years.

To qualify, one must satisfy all the eligibility requisites of the local Social Services Department and furnish the required documents confirming your eligible household status based on the living situation.

Getting the air conditioner installed

The HVAC Participating Vendors' supplier list can be obtained from the HEAP Participating Vendor list. To find a vendor, specify your county, select the fuel type as “Cooling,” and proceed. The recipients must uphold the service contract, ensuring the efficient operation of the air conditioner, encompassing removal, covering, storing, and reinstalling of the unit post-installation by the vendor. It's advisable to have carbon monoxide detectors and programmable thermostats for safety and energy efficiency.

To enhance your understanding of various grants and programs to assist with your living situation, explore the Gov Relations' blog section today! Note that benefits for households with elderly or disabled individuals might have different criteria.

Jody Adams
Jody Adams is an accomplished editor-in-chief with a deep understanding of social care and government benefits issues. With a background in journalism and a master's degree in Public Policy, Jody has spent her career shaping the narrative around social policies and their impact on society. She has worked with renowned publications, effectively bridging the gap between complex policy analysis and public understanding. Jody's editorial expertise ensures that vital information on social care and government benefits reaches a broad audience, empowering individuals to make informed decisions.
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