Frequently Asked Questions

Q. What is the Energy Assistance Foundation?
A. The Foundation is a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization governed by an independent, volunteer board. The Energy Assistance Foundation was established by Illinois Power in 1982 to provide heating assistance and home weatherization. Today, the Foundation provides year-round heating and cooling assistance and home weatherization to Ameren Illinois customers who qualify.
Q. Is my donation to the Energy Assistance Foundation tax-deductible?
A. Yes.
Q. What is Warm Neighbors Cool Friends?
A. Warm Neighbors Cool Friends is an Energy Assistance Foundation program that provides year-round energy bill payment assistance and home weatherization to make harsh winters and hot summers bearable for families in need.
Q. How does the bill payment program work?
A. Eligible households can receive up to $700 a year to help pay for energy costs ($350 during the heating season and $350 during the cooling season.) To receive assistance, qualifying customers must first make a payment on their utility account; Warm Neighbors Cool Friends will then make a matching payment.
Q. How does the home weatherization program work?
A. The Warm Neighbors Cool Friends home weatherization program typically includes basic energy-efficiency measures, such as insulation, air sealing, caulking and weather-stripping. These measures vary depending on local community initiatives.In addition, in 2010, the Energy Assistance Foundation partnered with the Ameren Illinois Act On Energy team to launch a pilot home weatherization program in Decatur. Along with more standard weatherization measures like insulation, the pilot program replaces older, inefficient heating and cooling units. Participants in the pilot program are asked to contribute 10% of the costs or $500, whichever is greater. Plans are to expand this pilot program to other communities in Ameren Illinois territory.
Q. How do you qualify for assistance?
A. To qualify for assistance through Warm neighbors Cool Friends, you must be a gas and/or electric customer of Ameren Illinois and meet income guidelines. The Energy Assistance Foundation tries to target customers with household incomes just above the guidelines for LIHEAP (Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program) assistance. Typically, total household income must fall between 150 and 300 percent of the federal poverty level to qualify for bill payment assistance through Warm Neighbors Cool Friends. Our home weatherization program targets households with incomes at 150 to 300 percent of the poverty level.

Bill Payment Program
2013-2014 Income Eligibility Requirements

Family Size Monthly Income
1 $1,436 – $2,872
2 $1,939 – $3,878
3 $2,441 – $4,882
4 $2,944 – $5,888
5 $3,446 – $6,892
6 $3,949 – $7,898
7 $4,451 – $8,902
8 $4,954 – $9,908
Q. If I make a monthly donation to the Foundation on my utility bill, do I need to renew it every year?
A. No. Monthly donations will continue until you indicate that you wish to change the amount you are giving or stop making a monthly donation. You may do so at any time by completing a contribution form with the new donation amount.
Q. How does the Foundation determine eligibility for Warm Neighbors Cool Friends?
A. The Energy Assistance Foundation works through a statewide network of social service agencies and community organizations to determine applicant eligibility at the local level. Click here to learn more about program requirements.
Q. Where are the Warm Neighbors Cool Friends agencies in my area?
A. View a list of agencies and contact information.
Q. How is Warm Neighbors Cool Friends different than other energy assistance programs?
A. Warm Neighbors Cool Friends is unique in that it targets low- to moderate-income families and senior citizens who are struggling to make ends meet due to temporary financial setbacks. Most of the families who receive help do not qualify for government energy assistance.
The program also aims to help those who help themselves. The Warm Neighbors Cool Friends bill payment program requires a matching payment from the customer. A customer contribution is also required for the pilot home weatherization program.
Q. What percentage of my contribution goes toward administrative expenses?
A. To keep administrative expenses to a minimum, the Energy Assistance Foundation has only one paid employee, its Executive Director. An annual contribution from the Ameren Charitable Trust covers all administrative expenses, so every penny you give goes directly to help those in need.
Q. How do you refer someone who needs assistance?
A. If you know someone in need, please refer them to the local social service agency that administers Warm Neighbors Cool Friends. View a list of these agencies, or you may contact the Energy Assistance Foundation at 1.888.690.5700.

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