Winter energy bills are much higher this year, disproportionately affecting low-income families and even median-income households.
Consumers have already been battling high prices due to inflation and now must take on rising heating bills as temperatures drop.
According to the US Energy Information Administration, the average household will spend 28 percent more than last year on gas to heat their home. This is a considerable increase, especially because last year, around 1 out of 5 households struggled to pay their utility bills, according to the U.S. Census.
Households living paycheck to paycheck or spending on other necessities, such as transportation, daycare, dental, household, or medical bills, will not be able to afford this year’s significant increase. Energy cost increases affect an increasing number of average-income households across the state.
For some – seniors and very low-income, a moratorium is in place to prevent utility shut-offs for heat during the cold winter months; however, many median-income households, or those with incomes just above the poverty line, do not qualify for the moratorium on shut-offs. For a more detailed list of requirements, visit here. Households who do not qualify for the moratorium are saddled with thousands of dollars of heating and other utility bills when the moratorium period is over. In some cases, families and individuals are threatened with shut-offs after the moratorium period and cannot restore their utilities until they have paid.
How is the US Government helping?
The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) provides federally funded assistance to reduce home energy bill costs; however, many residents are still not receiving the funds they need. LIHEAP is operated through each state’s government, and eligibility is determined by income and household size. According to the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office, household income must be 60% or less than the state median income in order to qualify. Residents who qualify must fill out an application, and residents with an income above 60% of the state median are encouraged to set up payment deferment plans with their energy company.
How Do We help?
Winter is far from over. Lend A Hand Society aids households in need. We are making grants every day to help families and individuals who are struggling with utility bills. We help to prevent shut-offs and also help residents have their utilities restored.
Donate now to help us prevent power shut-offs and keep families warm.