Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)

Evidence Rating  
Expert Opinion
Evidence rating: Expert Opinion

Strategies with this rating are recommended by credible, impartial experts but have limited research documenting effects; further research, often with stronger designs, is needed to confirm effects.

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’1. Participants are also often at high risk for food insecurity2. LIHEAP is a federal program; states and territories apply for block grants and allocate available funds to approved households using locally designated formulas3

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 households1, 4, 5 2. Available evidence suggests that receiving LIHEAP benefits is also associated with improvements in children’s growth and health2, 5. However, additional evidence is needed to confirm effects. 

Researchers recommend increasing LIHEAP funds to ensure all income-eligible households are served1, 2, changing funding allocations to be more equitable among states6, and improving state-level distribution methods to best reach energy-insecure households1.

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 the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) in fiscal year 20177. Funds are awarded to territories, tribes, and states based on low income population and climate3.

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)8.

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).

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.

ACEEE-Smarter House - American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE). Smarter House: Reduce your impact and home energy breakdown.

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

LHS-COVID-19 response - Local Housing Solutions (LHS), NYU Furman Center, Abt Associates. COVID-19 Housing response plans.

Footnotes

* Journal subscription may be required for access.

1 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.

2 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.

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

4 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.

5 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.

6 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.

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

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

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