PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Millions of dollars in federal aid is coming to help Rhode Islanders with their heating bills this winter through the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP).

The federally funded program helps low-income households pay their energy bills. More than 26,000 Rhode Island households turned to the program for assistance in 2021, according to a press release from Sen. Jack Reed’s office.

Roughly $4.5 billion will be distributed to states, territories and tribes this week to help with rising heating costs.

The funds are a combination of regular appropriations by Congress, $100 million from President Joe Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, and additional emergency funding Congress included in the September continuing resolution following the Biden-Harris Administration’s request for these funds.

U.S. Sen Jack Reed, a senior member of the Appropriations Committee, announced Wednesday that nearly $29.5 million of that money will be available to Rhode Island families in need.

This comes just as Rhode Island Energy increased customers’ electricity and natural gas rates.

“As temperatures begin to dip and Putin’s invasion of Ukraine forces worldwide energy price spikes, LIHEAP funds are a real lifeline for many vulnerable Americans,” Reed added. “No one should have to choose between paying their heating bills and paying for other essentials like food and medicine.”

Eligibility for LIHEAP is based on income, family size, and the availability of resources.

Visit the Department of Health and Human Services website to apply for home heating assistance.