Beginning this heating season, North Dakotans can apply online for home heating help

Heather Steffl
Special to Devils Lake Daily Journal

BISMARCK – Beginning this heating season, North Dakotans who need help paying for their winter heating bills can apply online for the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). The heating assistance program is the final program to be added to the state’s online Self-Service Portal and Consolidated Eligibility System (SPACES). Individuals can also apply locally at a human service zone office or by mail if they prefer.

Because most fireplaces are inefficient, homeowners trying to heat an entire house, as opposed to just a few rooms, should opt for central heat. Images courtesy of Aaron Lubeck, author of “Green Restorations: Sustainable Building and Historic Homes” (New Society Publishers, 2010)

“As we work to improve lives and focus on our key priority of stable families, we are pleased to give North Dakotans the option of applying online for economic assistance programs, including heating assistance, and health care coverage programs,” said Economic Assistance Division Director Michele Gee. “This is the final release in the SPACES project, which began with the implementation of the Affordable Care Act in 2015. The project replaced multiple outdated technology systems with a modern, web-based system.”

Applications for the upcoming 2021-2022 heating season can be submitted between Oct. 1, 2021, and May 31, 2022. This past year, the federally funded program helped about 12,800 qualifying North Dakota households by providing an average of $890 in help per household.

LIHEAP can pay part of a qualifying household’s home heating costs, whether a home is heated with natural gas, electricity, propane, coal, fuel oil, or wood. The aid amount varies based on the number of people living in the household, their combined incomes, the heat source and other factors intended to ensure help goes to those most in need.

Many outdoor furnaces heat water outside using wood or other fuels. The water is then circulated into the home and used to heat the building.

Both homeowners and renters can apply. However, individuals living in subsidized housing whose heat is included in their rent are not eligible for the program.

Finding Help

North Dakota who are struggling to pay for food, heating costs, rent, child care or medical coverage, or who are experiencing related stressors can apply and learn more about helpful programs on the department’s Help is Here website at https://www.helpishere.nd.gov/.