NOTE: Residents regularly reach out for help or suggestions regarding the high cost of utilities, including internet, phone, cable, electricity and heating fuel. Here are some options that may be helpful. Please note that this handout is for informational purposes and not to provide endorsement. Please do your own research to determine which programs and services best meet your individual needs, and to explore other services that may be available.
Discounts and Shut Off Assistance for Heating/Fuel/Electricity
- National Grid – National Grid offers a low-income discount of 25% off for those who meet eligibility guidelines. (If you are eligible for SNAP, Mass Health, Chapter 115 Veterans benefits, School Lunch Program, or a variety of other state programs, you are eligible for this program.) Click here to apply. Call 1-(800) 231-5325 for additional information or to sign up.
- Eversource – Offers a Discount Rate each month for those who meet eligibility guidelines. (If you are eligible for SNAP, you are eligible for this program.) Apply here. Those on the Discount Rate are also eligible for the New Start Program. If you are overdue on your bill, they may be able to help set up a payment plan that reduces the amount you pay each month and develops a plan to pay off the balance within 12 months. Call 1-(800) 592-2000 for more information or visit online.
- If someone in your household suffers from serious illness, you can apply for protection of service termination here. (Needs to be renewed monthly unless illness is chronic.)
- Utility Shut-Off Information– Shut off prevention and assistance, what to do if you have a shutoff notice, financial assistance programs, and laws that prohibit shutoff.
- NOTE: If you are having difficulty paying your bill, reach out to the electric company immediately. Attempt to work out a payment plan with the company. Often people wait until they have a shut off notice when there is less flexibility. Even if you do have a shut off notice, be proactive and call the electric company. Once electricity is shut off, a large payment is often required to turn it back on.
- Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)/Fuel Assistance – Assists eligible households with paying part of winter heating bills, and can provide assistance with the procurement of oil, electricity, natural gas, propane, kerosene, wood, and coal. Eligibility based on household size and gross income of all household members. Household income cannot exceed 60% of estimated State Median Income.
- Good Neighbor Energy Fund – Heating fuel assistance for people slightly over the income limits for LIHEAP. Program opens in December for emergency shut offs, and January for all other inquiries. To determine eligibility, call the Salvation Army and request the service unit at (339) 502-5900 (Be prepared with household gross income and number of people in the household).
- Heating Emergency Assistance Retrofit Task Weatherization Assistance Program (HEARTWAP) – Provides heating system repair and replacement services to low-income households.
- Appliance Management Program – Contact SMOC Energy at (866) 397-8478. Funded through Eversource or National Grid, an energy auditor will come to your home and will review your energy usage, especially your refrigerator. Those who pay a discount rate for your electric account qualify. While at your home, the auditor will:
- Complete an in-home appliance assessment
- Provide free efficient light bulbs for the entire home
- Discuss the possibility of a free high use refrigerator replacement
- Offer other energy saving measures including “smart” power strips
- Energy Saving Tips
Discounts and Assistance for Internet/Phone
- Affordable Connectivity Program – Federal discount on internet services, up to $30 per month; and one-time discount of up to $100 to purchase a laptop, desktop, or tablet device.
- Internet Essentials – Low cost internet and computers for those who meet eligibility.
- Borrow Internet Hotspots from Local Libraries
- Goodnow Library – Access to computers and Wi-Fi for on-site use.
- Lifeline – basic and discounted landline (If you are eligible for SNAP, SSI, Mass Health or certain other state/federal programs, you are eligible for this program). Rates range from ~$2-$9month PLUS taxes, fees, and calls per minute. Includes very local calls only and requires signing up for a “regional toll provider” for longer distance calls. Signing up for a regional toll provider is free, and calls are charged per minute . Apply here or call 1 (800) 234-9473 for assistance.
- PLEASE NOTE: You cannot have a Lifeline landline with a SafeLink or Budget Mobile cell phone. If you order one when you have the other, the initial service will be discontinued, and you may end up getting a bill.
- SafeLink -SafeLink provides free cell phones to those who meet income requirements. (If you are eligible for SNAP or certain other state/federal programs, you are eligible for this program). Phone will arrive in 7-10 business days after approval (approval takes about 5 days). You must make at least 1 call/month. Call 1 (800) 723-3546 for additional information about enrollment or changes to your plan
- PLEASE NOTE: You cannot have a SafeLink cell phone and a Lifeline landline. If you order one when you have the other, the initial service will be discontinued, and you may end up getting a bill.
- Cell phone bill tips:
- Resource Page: Buying a Phone/Phone Plan – Tips and low-cost options.
- If you have a current cell phone plan, companies have advised calling in and speaking with a customer service representative to take a thorough look at your plan to determine if you are able save money by adjusting your plan, avoiding overages, or switching to a new plan (this can at times be done without changing your contract). It’s also helpful to ask if the company offers any additional discounts or low-income options.
- When buying applications for a smart phone, be mindful to shop around, as free alternatives exist for many common applications
- Many employers offer plan discounts between 10-20%. Ask your wireless provider if your current employer is part of an employee discount plan.
- Family plans can also be a great way to save money.
Discounts for Television Services
Alternatives to Cable:
- Indoor Digital Antennas: Search online to purchase. Allows you access to basic television channels for a one-time cost of about $60. It’s important to inquire about the needed range of the antenna to get desired channels.
- Devices that use an internet connection to enable access to streaming videos and can be an alternative to cable.
- Many major television and news sites have free streaming of recent episodes.
- GoodNow Library, Sudbury MA
- Utility Help in MA – list of resources from the National Consumer Law Center, including Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAGP), Homeowner Assistance Fund (HAF), Residential Assistance for Families in Transition (RAFT), and more
- Handbook: Utilities Advocacy for Low-Income Households in MA
- Sudbury Water Department Leak Abatement Policy and Form – if you discover a leak and have it repaired you can challenge the water bill that was increased because of the leak