Americans will pay more to heat their homes this winter

Americans are seeing the biggest increase in their home heating bills in more than 10 years, and it’s not just because of inflation.

new one report good From the National Energy Assistance Directors Association (NEADA), which represents state directors of the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), average home heating costs jumped 17.2% and 42% this winter compared to last year. leaps. In the price of household electricity compared to the winter just before the pandemic hit.

According to NEADA executive director Mark Wolfe, the latest increase is the result of sky-high summer temperatures, which pushed up the price of natural gas as some customers crank up their air conditioners to cool their homes. That surge in demand drove prices higher, and was accelerated by the retirement of coal-fired and nuclear plants in favor of power generators.

Meanwhile, natural gas production has been slow to come back online following waves of shutdowns during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Today the price of natural gas is at levels Haven’t seen it in over a decade. NEADA estimates that 91% of Americans’ heating and cooling costs are linked to the price of natural gas, whether directly or as a primary energy source used to generate electricity.

Some utilities are able to soften the blow of dramatic price swings, or cost increases over time, and thus protect their customers from price spikes. Additionally, utilities are prohibited from profiting from rising commodity prices.

Nevertheless, many states are now facing dwindling natural gas reserves. As they start buying more natural gas at current prices to meet the shortfall, customers may face higher bills in the coming months.

Indeed, some utilities are already notifying customers of the higher cost of preparation. On September 9, New York utility giant Con Edison forecast That this winter a typical customer’s electricity bill will climb 22% to $116 a month, while the average residential natural gas heating customer will see a 32% increase to $460 a month.

The company said the hike is directly related to higher natural gas prices.

Gary Cunningham, director of market research at energy consultancy Tradition Energy, said the US itself is shipping more natural gas out of the country because of rising demand from Europe, which is facing a supply crunch due to the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

“We now have an imbalance between supply and demand,” Cunningham said. “All summer when we should have put gas in storage, we weren’t putting it away. So, we had a cold winter, not a strong increase in production, strong exports – and that’s what we got.”

Last week, NEADA sent a Letter Congress asked LIHEAP for a $5 billion supplemental increase to assist consumers with the high costs of home heating and cooling. Without it, the group said, it faces a “funding cliff” because the $4.5 billion allocated in supplemental funding for LIHEAP in the 2021 US rescue plan will be fully bid up by the end of September.

“For many struggling families, higher prices may mean being forced to choose between heat, food or medicine,” the association said.

“According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s Pulse survey, nearly 29% of Americans surveyed had to reduce spending for basic household necessities or give up last year to pay an energy bill. And that fuel prices began to rise. It was before.”

Tammy Stauffer, director of Energy Aid for the Community Work Partnership of Hennepin County in Minneapolis, NBC affiliate told KRE-TV It already predicts that the size of the grant for its energy aid will be smaller than it was last winter, and formerly expanded eligibility for aid will no longer apply.

Last year, the affiliate said, the organization made 7,000 more applications than last season, a 38% increase.

“The extra funding we had last season definitely helped us help more people and provide them with bigger grants,” Stauffer said. “I am a little worried that the funding will not be able to meet the demand.

NEADA Executive Director Mark Wolfe said any additional funding would allow LIHEAP to reach more families.

“With these high prices, we expect more people to apply for help,” he said. “Especially low-income families are also struggling with high food prices and high rents. We are paying a bill, so if we are paying this bill, they are able to afford food and gasoline. Will be.”

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