Low temperatures and record-high inflation mean a big increase in home energy bills. In fact, nearly half of U.S. households that heat primarily with natural gas will spend 30% more than they did last winter. The 41% of households using electric heat are expected to spend 6% more, according to the Winter Fuels Outlook 2021 report from the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
However, there are resources available to help with energy assistance this winter.
1. Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program
The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) is offered through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). This program helps keep families safe and healthy by offering help with home energy bills, weatherization and minor energy-related home repairs.
According to Benefits.gov, you may be eligible to participate if you receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits, Supplemental Security Income or if you’re a part of the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program.
2. Weatherization Assistance Program
The Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) through the U.S. Department of Energy helps lower energy costs by improving the energy efficiency of households. According to Benefits.gov, this program can help households save an average of $283 a year.
3. Housing and Public Utilities Category
You can also look through the Housing and Public Utilities category of benefits on Benefits.gov and filter by state or another subcategory.
4. Benefit Finder
Benefits.gov also has a Benefit Finder questionnaire to help find government assistance that you may be eligible to receive. When filling out the questionnaire, you’ll answer questions about your current situation. The Benefit Finder will give your results and provide you with the next steps to apply for benefits.
5. Cost-Effective Energy Tips
You can also take steps at home to reduce your household’s energy costs. Here are a few tips from the U.S Department of Energy:
- Lower the temperature in your home while you’re away. Lowering your thermostat 7 to 10 degrees for at least 8 hours can reduce your heating costs by 10% per year.
- Reduce your usage of hot water.
- Check heating ducts and vents for any air leaks. A leak causes your heating system to work harder and costs you more in the long run.
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