The White House announces $13.5 billion in funding to help households with energy bills
Nov 2 (Reuters) – President Joe Biden’s administration will make $13.5 billion available to help low-income American households cut heating costs this winter, the White House said on Wednesday.
As part of the initiative, the US Department of Health and Human Services is providing $4.5 billion under the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), according to a statement.
U.S. consumers can expect to pay up to 28% more to heat their homes this winter than last year due to rising fuel costs and colder weather, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) predicted in its October winter fuel forecast. read more
The new funds will help Americans with heating and unpaid utility bills and repair home energy devices, helping them lower their energy costs, the White House said.
Separately, the US Department of Energy will allocate $9 billion in Inflation Reduction Act funds to support up to 1.6 million households in improving their homes to lower their energy bills.
About 90% of the roughly 130 million American households rely on natural gas or electricity for heating. Others use either heating oil, propane or wood for heating.
The EIA projects that the average household will spend about $931 on gas heating this winter and about $1,359 on electric heating. That’s a 28% increase for gas and a 10% increase for electricity over last year.
Homes using heating oil will spend about $2,354 for heating this winter, up 27 percent from last year, while propane users will see their costs rise 5 percent to $1,668, according to EIA forecasts.
Despite the large increase in costs, gas will remain the cheapest source of heat in the country.
Families are already struggling to pay their electric and gas bills, with about one in six American households in arrears, according to estimates from the National Energy Assistance Directors Association (NEADA) in October.
NEADA, which represents LIHEAP’s state director, said American families are about $16.1 billion behind on their utility bills.
“Rising home energy costs this winter will put millions of lower-income families at risk of falling behind on their energy bills and having no choice but to make tough decisions between paying for food, medicine and rent,” said NEADA Executive Director Mark Wolfe said.
Reporting by Anirudh Saligrama and Akriti Sharma in Bengaluru and Scott DiSavin in New York; Editors Andrew Heavens, Tomasz Janowski and Jonathan Oatis
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