The number of people in the U.S. who have tested positive for coronavirus has been growing exponentially. Many states, including California and Illinois, have encouraged residents to shelter in place in an effort to keep the virus from spreading even further.
These shelter-in-place orders have brought life in the U.S. to a complete standstill and have cost countless people their jobs. In fact, nearly three out of four adults in the U.S. are worried about how they are going to pay their bills as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
If you’re concerned about making ends meet, it’s important to understand how to get relief on your utility bills due to the coronavirus. Here’s what you need to know:
How Can I Get Out Of Paying My Utility Bill?
Your electric bill should be one of your first priorities since you need to keep your lights on in order to live comfortably at home during the coronavirus pandemic. But the average electric bill in the U.S. is $117. 65 per month, which many people may not be able to afford during this global crisis. Fortunately, help may be available for people in this situation.
Many electric, gas, and water companies have announced that they will not shut off services for customers who fail to pay their bills on time. Some local governments have even issued orders that require utility companies to keep electricity, gas, and water on for all customers regardless of their ability to pay.
If you’re not sure where your utility company stands on this issue, it’s best to reach out to them directly to find out. If your utility company has not promised to suspend payments, they may offer a deferred payment plan that will give you more time to catch up on missed payments.
Where Can I Get Help Paying My Utility Bills?
If your utility provider has not offered to suspend payments in light of the coronavirus, there are other ways you can seek financial relief.
The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) provides financial assistance to low-income individuals who are struggling to pay their utility bills. Every state has its own eligibility requirements, so it’s best to contact the LIHEAP office in your state to find out if you qualify.
The Emergency Home Energy Assistance for the Elderly Program (EHEAP) is another program that provides financial assistance to people who cannot afford to pay their utility bills. This program only provides benefits to low-income households with at least one adult over the age of 60.
If you are not eligible for LIHEAP or EHEAP, research non-profit organizations in your community that provide financial assistance to people in need. For example, the Salvation Army offers assistance to certain eligible individuals who are unable to pay their rent or utility bills. Many non-profit organizations have established similar programs, so do your research to determine if you qualify for help.
How Can I Lower My Utility Bills?
Your house is probably consuming more energy now that you’re spending more time at home, which means your utility bills may go up over the next several months. To keep your utility bills low, it’s important to implement some of these strategies:
- Turn off your lights whenever you leave the room. If the sun is shining outside, let the natural light in instead of turning on the lights.
- Don’t turn on the dishwasher or the washer unless you have a full load of dishes or dirty clothes.
- Lower the temperature on your water heater to 120 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Cook with the microwave instead of the oven or stove. The microwave consumes far less energy than both of these appliances.
- Use the ceiling fans to keep cool instead of turning the temperature down on the air conditioner.
- Plug your devices into a power strip and turn the strip off when the devices are not in use. This will cut off the power and prevent the devices from continuing to consume energy even when they are turned off.
Following these tips will make your energy expenses more manageable during the coronavirus pandemic.
Get the Help You Need During the Coronavirus Pandemic
Your main focus should be on keeping your family healthy, not worrying about how you are going to pay your bills. But unfortunately, this is a serious concern for many people who have lost their jobs or had their hours reduced as a result of the coronavirus. If you’re struggling financially, take advantage of every resource that is available to you in order to get through this incredibly challenging time.