Winter Heating Season Tips and Resources

November 16, 2021

Winter Disconnect Notice - Electricity and natural gas residential customers cannot be disconnected from service during the winter, which is November 15th through April 15th, without approval from the Public Utilities Commission (PUC). For more information regarding options for avoiding winter disconnection, please call the Maine Public Utilities Commission's Consumer Assistance Hotline at (800) 452-4699 or (207) 287-1597. You can also reach the Maine PUC at (800) 437-1220 (TTY Relay), or by email at maine.puc@maine.gov.

November 3, 2021

As a result of global energy markets, Maine is expected to see increases in the price of heating fuels and electricity this winter. The Governor’s Energy Office has prepared the following resources to help Maine people stay warm this winter and know where to find assistance if needed.


Download this Guide

Download our printable guide (PDF) for distribution in your community, agency or organization. 

winter heating guide guide cover

 


Prepare for Winter

  • Stay Informed: The Governor’s Energy Office tracks heating fuel prices to help consumers make informed energy decisions.
  • Tune Up: Schedule your annual heating system maintenance as soon as possible to ensure it is operating most efficiently.
  • Energy Efficiency: Weatherizing your home and installing a high efficiency heat pump can help you save money this winter and use less fuel. Learn more about incentives and get energy saving tips from EfficiencyMaine and MaineHousing.
  • Lock Your Price: Ask your heating fuel provider about locking in a price for the heating season, as security against unexpected price increases. Read price contracts closely and ask questions to understand all details before signing.
  • Automatic Delivery: Ask your heating fuel provider about automatic delivery. Your provider will monitor your fuel usage, so you won’t accidently run out of fuel. Automatic delivery also offers added security in the unlikely event of supply disruptions or very cold/inclement weather. 
  • Propane: If you heat with propane, read our Propane Consumer Guide (PDF), which includes information on obtaining a good price, changing suppliers and potential start-up fees.
  • Wood Heating: If you use wood to heat your home, read this firewood guide prepared by the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry.

 


Winter Energy Resources 

Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)

MaineHousing’s Home Energy Assistance Program (commonly called LIHEAP or HEAP Fuel Assistance) provides benefits for low-moderate income homeowners and renters to help pay heating costs. The funds are distributed throughout Maine by nine (9) Community Action Agencies, in most cases directly to the fuel vendors. The program is not intended to pay for all heating costs, but to assist in paying the heating bills.

Emergency Rental Assistance Program – Utilities

The Emergency Rental Assistance Program can pay for rent and some utilities owed back to March 13, 2020. The program will also cover up to three months of upcoming rent at one time. Electricity, water, sewer, trash, heat, and internet may be covered. Renters may apply for help paying for utilities even if they do not need help paying for rent. You will need to show past and current amounts due by providing a recent statement from the utility company/companies.

Weatherization Assistance Program 

MaineHousing’s Weatherization Assistance Program provides grants to income eligible homeowners and renters to reduce energy costs by improving home energy efficiency. MaineHousing offers this program to consumers through Community Action Agencies, who screen people for eligibility as part of the HEAP application process.

Low Income Assistance Program

LIAP helps HEAP eligible households and renters with their electric utility bills. Community Action Agencies accepts customer applications for LIAP as part of the HEAP application process.

Natural Gas Customer Discounts

If you are a customer of Unitil, Bangor Gas, or Maine Natural Gas receiving service under the residential heating and non-heating rates, you may be eligible to receive a 30% discount on your delivery and gas supply rates.

The discount applies to any customer identified by the Maine State Housing Authority (MaineHousing) as eligible for LIHEAP. Once enrolled, customers will receive the discount for 12 consecutive months. You should call your gas utility to enroll.

Energy Efficiency Investments 

There are many financial incentives and low-cost financing options available to help consumers and businesses make heating system upgrades, energy efficiency improvements – all which can reduce heating fuel use and cost. Most of these programs are administered by Efficiency Maine Trust or MaineHousing.  

Electricity Bill Assistance

Central Maine Power Co. and Versant Power each operate an AMP that assists eligible low-income residential customers who are in arrears on their electricity bills. Customers who are eligible for LIHEAP and have an arrearage of $500 or more that is at least 90 days old are eligible to participate in the program.

Participating customers will have 1/12 of their arrearage amount, up to a maximum of $300, forgiven every month that they pay their current bill on time. To enroll in an AMP, customers should contact either their local Community Action Agency or their utility.

Central Heating Improvement Program

CHIP, offered through MaineHousing, provides grants to repair or replace central heating systems that serve low-income households.

MaineHousing’s Heat Pump Program

MaineHousing’s heat pump program pays for the cost and installation of a heat pump for eligible Maine homeowners. Heat pumps are a popular and efficient tool to help heat homes in cold climates. They can help save on heating costs if used in the correct way.


Energy Assistance Agencies

Governor’s Energy Office (GEO)

The GEO conducts a weekly survey of heating fuel prices, obtained from fuel retailers statewide. This survey provides the current Maine cash prices, in dollars, rounded to the nearest penny. This site also contains to assist consumers in obtaining the best propane price for their household and location, a comparison of heating fuel prices (e.g., cord wood, natural gas, wood pellets, heating oil, etc.), and monthly heating fuel price trends.

Contacts: 

MaineHousing

The Maine State Housing Authority (MaineHousing) is an independent authority that addresses problems of unsafe, unsuitable, overcrowded, and unaffordable housing. Working with Community Action Agencies around the state, MaineHousing administers home heating assistance and weatherization programs for Maine people to stay warm during the winter. 

Efficiency Maine 

Efficiency Maine is the independent administrator for programs to improve the efficiency of energy use and reduce greenhouse gases in Maine’s homes. It does this primarily by delivering financial incentives on the purchase of high-efficiency equipment that help customers save electricity, natural gas and other fuels throughout the Maine economy. 

Residential: Special incentives for low- and moderate-income households are available for weatherization, heat pumps, and heat pump water heaters. 

Commercial: Programs exist for businesses of all sizes, municipalities, schools, multi-family buildings with five units or more,  and  Maine’s largest energy consumers.  

Public Utilities Commission (PUC)

The Maine Public Utilities Commission (PUC) is the state’s governing body that regulates the rates and services of Maine’s utilities.

Office of the Public Advocate (OPA)

The Office of the Public Advocate's (OPA) primary responsibility is to represent the interests of Maine utility consumers. The OPA and Staff have been active for many years in proceedings concerning the availability, pricing, and transmission of energy prices in Maine.