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Keep Your Heat from Getting Shut Off this Winter

Created November 2012

It may be against the law for your utility company to stop your heat this winter.

It is illegal for your gas or electric company to turn off your services if you need them for heat between November 15 and March 15 and you cannot afford to pay your bills.

You must:

How do I make sure my utility company does not turn off my heat?

If you think you will not be able to pay all of your winter heat bills:

  1. Contact your utility company. Tell them you are having a hard time paying for your heat. This protects you for seven days.
  2. Ask the company for their “financial hardship” form.
  3. When you get the form, fill it out, and state that gas or electricity is your heat source, or that you need electricity for your thermostat or furnace.
  4. Sign the form, make a copy of it, and send it to your utility company. Try to send the form back to the company as soon as you can.
  5. Once you sign and send in the form, your utility company cannot shut off your utility between November 15 and March 15. Your utility company can only shut off your utility if the Department of Public Utilities (DPU) decides that you do not have a financial hardship.


If you got fuel assistance last winter, it is against the law for your utility company to cut off your heat before January 1, 2013 for any reason. This is to give you enough time to apply for fuel assistance for this year. See Fuel Assistance Program.

Who can I call for help?

If you are having trouble with your utility company, or if your heat gets cut off, call the Department of Public Utilities at (617) 737-2836 or toll-free (877) 886-5066. You can also call your local legal services.

My utility bills keep adding up. How do I get help?

When you send your utility company a financial hardship form, you will have heat through March 15. But your utility bills will keep coming. If you do not pay your bills, your heat can be shut off on March 15.

If you have trouble paying your bills, see Getting Help Paying Your Bills, Discounts on Utilities for People with Low Income and Lowering Your Bills Further.

What happens at the end of winter, and my utility company threatens to shut my heat off?

See Special Protections Against Shut-offs and Getting Help Paying Your Bills.

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