The Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) was introduced by the New York state government to help lower-income households cover their energy expenses. The HEAP offers a wide range of benefits, and eligible households can get one per year under normal conditions, or multiple benefits per year under emergency conditions. One of the HEAP benefits is the Cooling Assistance Program: households can get a free air conditioner if someone in the dwelling suffers from a health condition that is aggravated by heat.
In addition to having a patient with a heat-sensitive condition, households must meet the normal HEAP criteria to be eligible for the Cooling Assistance Program. If you are a developer or architect who works with affordable housing, consider telling your tenants about the program so they don’t miss out.
Overview of the Cooling Assistance Program
The Cooling Assistance Program for 2018 started receiving applications on May 1, and Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that $3 million in funds are available. Applications are given priority based on their submittal date, and will continue to be accepted until program funds run out for the current year or until August 31.
- The program offers up to $800 per installation.
- Applications are per household, which means the same dwelling cannot receive more than one air conditioning unit.
- In cases where installing an air conditioner is not safe, funding can be used for a fan instead.
- The program requires medical proof of the heat-sensitive health condition affecting one of the occupants in the dwelling.
In order to improve the effectiveness of the Cooling Assistance Program, it does not apply for households that meet either of the following conditions:
- The household already has an air conditioner that is less than 5 years old.
- The household has already received an AC unit from the Cooling Assistance Program in the last 10 years.
The Cooling Assistance Program has been very effective in recent years. According to the NY State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance, 4000 households received new air conditioners in 2017 thanks to the program.
To ensure that the air conditioners installed offer good performance, HEAP works with a qualified list of HVAC vendors. Note that the owners are responsible for maintenance once the unit is installed - funding only covers the purchase and installation.
Although the application period has just started for 2018, it is strongly advised that applicants complete the procedure as soon as possible. This way, the air conditioning unit will already be operational when the full heat of summer arrives.
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