(COLORADO SPRINGS) — Applications opened on Nov. 1 for Colorado’s Low-income Energy Assistance Program (LEAP), a federally funded program that helps eligible applicants pay a portion of their winter heating costs.

LEAP helps individuals and families with their home heating costs by making a one-time payment directly to the utility company on behalf of the LEAP eligible household. According to Colorado’s Department of Human Services (DHS), in 2021, a record 84,000 LEAP recipients received an average benefit of $990.11.

“This winter, heating bills are expected to be at a 10-year high impacting thousands of low-income Coloradans,” said Theresa Kullen, LEAP manager. “Data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration shows consumers will pay up to 28 percent more for natural gas to heat their homes.”

Kullen added that this increase may force many Coloradans to choose between food, rent, medicine, and a warm home.

To qualify for LEAP, Coloradans may have an income up to 60 percent of the state median income level, which equates to a household income of less than $66,468 a year for a family of four. Additionally, LEAP recipients must pay home heating costs directly to a utility company or landlord as part of their rent and have at least one U.S. citizen or permanent legal resident of the U.S. living in the household.

LEAP applications can be accepted through the Colorado Department of Human Services.

To access the LEAP application, visit cdhs.colorado.gov/leap Online applications are processed through the Colorado PEAK system. You can also call the HEAT HELP line at 1-866-HEAT-HELP (1-866-432-8435) to receive an application via mail or email or visit your county Human Services office to pick up or drop off an application.

In addition to home heating bill assistance, LEAP recipients may be eligible to receive furnace repair and replacement in heat-related emergencies in addition to weatherization services pending the results of a home energy audit. Currently, LEAP recipients may also qualify for the Low-Income Household Water Assistance Program (LIHWAP), which is a temporary program that is part of the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).

LIHWAP provides funds to make a one-time payment to the water vendor directly on behalf of eligible households who are facing eviction due to unpaid water bills or whose account is either in arrears or shut off as long as funding is available and the water vendor is a LIHWAP participant.