Boiler and heat pump. (Robert Kneschke via Canva)

As colder months loom on the horizon, Connecticut is preparing to help its residents stay warm. The Connecticut Energy Assistance Program (CEAP) is opening its application period for the 2023-2024 winter season, starting today.

The program is designed to support Connecticut homeowners and renters who may struggle with the financial burden of heating their homes.

CEAP offers basic benefits that range from $180 to $530, depending on the household’s income, size, and needs. The benefits are generally paid directly to utility companies or fuel suppliers, relieving recipients of the added stress of managing bills. The program targets households with incomes up to 60% of the state’s median income, translating to approximately $79,910 for a family of four.

In a special provision for those households using deliverable fuels like oil or propane, the program may also cover multiple free tank refills throughout the winter.

The program aims to help an estimated 116,309 households with heating costs, but that might be ambitious since funding for the program will be below pre-pandemic levels.

Earlier this week, legislative committees approved a plan to provide about 31% less assistance to low-income families struggling to heat their homes as supplemental federal funding continues to dry up.

The plan finds the federal LIHEAP block grant at around $75 million — roughly on par with last year’s base grant. Limited additional funding will push the total support up to around $84.8 million.

However, additional funding has significantly boosted the program in recent years. Between emergency supplemental funds, disaster relief and other adjustments, last year’s total funding amounted to around $122.4 million. Meanwhile, ARPA funding helped push the fiscal year 2022 total to more than $140 million and the FY 21 total to around $117.5 million.

The Connecticut Department of Social Services administers the program in collaboration with local community action agencies.

“CEAP is a vital program that ensures Connecticut residents don’t have to choose between heating their homes and other essential expenses,” said a spokesperson from the Connecticut Department of Social Services.

For those interested in applying for the program, visit the Connecticut Department of Social Services or contact your local community action agency for application assistance.