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Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)

Evidence Rating

Expert Opinion

Health Factors

The Low Income Home Energy Assistance program (LIHEAP) helps low income households meet their home energy needs. LIHEAP focuses on helping families with at least one member who is young, disabled, or elderly, referred to as ‘vulnerable households,’ and those with the lowest incomes and highest home energy costs, referred to as ‘high burden households’ (Murray 2014). Participants are also often at high risk for food insecurity (Frank 2006). LIHEAP is a federal program; states and territories apply for block grants and allocate available funds to approved households using locally designated formulas (US DHHS-LIHEAP). 

Expected Beneficial Outcomes (Rated)

  • Reduced energy expenditures

Other Potential Beneficial Outcomes

  • Improved health outcomes

Evidence of Effectiveness

The Low Income Home Energy Assistance program (LIHEAP) is a suggested strategy to alleviate the financial burden of energy costs for the lowest income and most vulnerable households (Murray 2014, NEADA-LIHEAP, Frank 2006). Available evidence suggests that receiving LIHEAP benefits is also associated with improvements in children’s growth and health (Frank 2006, ). However, additional evidence is needed to confirm effects. 

Researchers recommend increasing LIHEAP funds to ensure all income-eligible households are served (Murray 2014, Frank 2006), changing funding allocations to be more equitable among states (), and improving state-level distribution methods to best reach energy-insecure households (Murray 2014).

Impact on Disparities

Likely to decrease disparities

Implementation Examples

The US Office of Community Services (OCS), Division of Energy Assistance (DEA) provided $3.39 billion in funding for LIHEAP in fiscal year 2017 (LIHEAP Clearinghouse-Funding). Funds are awarded to territories, tribes, and states based on low income population and climate (US DHHS-LIHEAP).

The American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE) has an interactive database map of state and local energy-efficient policies and programs, which includes information on LIHEAP and the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) (ACEEE-Energy policies).

Implementation Resources

US DHHS-LIHEAP - US Department of Health and Human Services (US DHHS), Administration for Children & Families (ACF). Low income home energy assistance program (LIHEAP).

ChangeLab-Housing toolkit 2015 - ChangeLab Solutions. Preserving, protecting, and expanding affordable housing: A policy toolkit for public health. 2015.

ACEEE-SmarterHouse - American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE). SmarterHouse: an up-to-date guide on energy savings in the home.

LISC-Affordable housing - Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC). Helping neighbors build communities: Affordable housing.

LIHEAP-State data - Campaign for Home Energy Assistance. Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP): State data center.

Citations - Evidence

* Journal subscription may be required for access.

Frank 2006 - Frank D, Neault NB, Skalicky A, et al. Heat or eat: The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program and nutritional and health risks among children less than 3 years of age. Pediatrics. 2006;118(5):1293-1302.

Kaiser 2006* - Kaiser MJ, Pulsipher AG. Concerns over the allocation methods employed in the US Low-Income Home Energy Assistance program. Interfaces. 2006;36(4):344-58.

Kuholski 2010* - Kuholski K, Tohn E, Morley R. Healthy energy-efficient housing: Using a one-touch approach to maximize public health, energy, and housing programs and policies. Journal of Public Health Management and Practice. 2010;16(5 Suppl):S68–74.

Murray 2014 - Murray AG, Mills BF. The impact of low-income home energy assistance program participation on household energy insecurity. Contemporary Economic Policy. 2014;32(4):811-825.

NEADA-LIHEAP - National Energy Assistance Directors' Association (NEADA). NEADA and public health. The National Energy Assistance Survey and the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP); 2011.

Citations - Implementation Examples

* Journal subscription may be required for access.

US DHHS-LIHEAP - US Department of Health and Human Services (US DHHS), Administration for Children & Families (ACF). Low income home energy assistance program (LIHEAP).

ACEEE-Energy policies - American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE). State and local policy database of energy efficiency policies and programs.

LIHEAP Clearinghouse-Funding - Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) Clearinghouse. LIHEAP and WAP funding, FY 2017.

Date Last Updated

Aug 29, 2017