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There will be millions more in funds to help Pennsylvanians who need heating assistance this winter

Pennsylvania's state Capitol building is shown in this undated file photo.

Millions more in funding will be available this fall and winter for Pennsylvanians in need of utility assistance.

Funds from the American Rescue Plan Act mean the state’s Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, also known as LIHEAP, will open earlier than usual this year, on October 18, rather than the first week of November.

Additionally, the federally funded program will close later in the spring than usual; the program’s minimum grant will increase from $200 to $500; and its maximum grant will go from $1,000 to $1,500, according to the state’s Department of Human Services.

The state estimates a budget of $200 million for the program, with an additional $250 million in funding from the American Rescue Plan.

LIHEAP has three main parts: cash grants to help households pay their heating costs, crisis payments for emergencies, and a weatherization program to help households become more energy efficient.

“We’re pretty happy with the expansions and we'll have to make sure that people know they can get LIHEAP assistance - and early this year…it's a very good thing,” said Elizabeth Marx, executive director of the Pennsylvania Utility Law Project, which aids low-income consumers.

For more information: visit the state’s LIHEAP website. Renters can also apply for utility aid as part of the Emergency Rental Assistance Program.

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Kate Giammarise focuses her reporting on poverty, social services and affordable housing. Before joining WESA, she covered those topics for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette for nearly five years; prior to that, she spent several years in the paper’s Harrisburg bureau covering the legislature, governor and state government. She can be reached at or 412-697-2953.