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Maine: average heating bill up from last year, but less than was projected in October

The average cost of heating a home this winter is expected to be $972, which is up from $888 last year, but down from October projections of $1,056, said Mark Wolfe, executive director of the National Energy Assistance Directors Association.

The Biden administration has also more than doubled funds for the federal Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, or LIHEAP, this season. The program, which provides money to some homeowners and renters for heating costs, typically receives $3 to 4 billion and serves 5 million households. The administration added another $4.5 billion via the American Rescue Plan.

But as some parts of the country are expected to have colder winters than normal, it’s unclear if that will be enough. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has said states such as Montana and Alaska are looking at winters that could be especially bitter.

And not everyone who could benefit from LIHEAP money receives it. Some don’t even know they qualify, Wolfe said.

“A lot of people who are eligible don’t think they are eligible because they think it’s just for the very poor,” he said. “I think that’s what we’d like to do — encourage families to apply even if they think it isn’t going to be helpful.”

Eligibility for LIHEAP money is based on income. States administer the money and local agencies make it available to pay bills.

by PATRICK WHITTLE, Associated PressThursday, December 30th 2021

Have questions about heating oil or propane, choosing the right vendor, or heating your home economically?
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A dramatic rise in the cost of heating oil over the past several months has been shocking to sellers and customers alike. “We had never seen above $4 (per gallon), and cleared $4 and $5 this year,” said Jared Trinks, manager of Trinks Brothers Oil in Manchester.
A vacant home needs maintenance, protection and comes with inherent risks. Ensuring heating system safety is just one of the concerns.
While energy prices dipped in 2020 due to the pandemic, utility bills steadily rose again in 2021 and are now spiking due primarily to the war in Ukraine. The expectation is that energy prices will continue to rise for the time being, exacerbating the squeeze on homeowners and renters alike. Below are key statistics and information on the current energy environment, as well as tips to estimate utility costs and save money.
The skyrocketing price of fuel comes as the United States has shipped more refined products like gasoline, diesel, and fuel oil, abroad to supply European markets following Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine in February, further tightening the market.
Right now, the lowest price for Number 2 heating oil in southern Maine is $5.73 a gallon. The highest price is $6, as low-income and working-class families feel the pinch.
Connecticut homeowners are reeling this spring as oil prices spike at the end of the heating season, tracking rising global demand and markets upended by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Oil would jump $1.50 a gallon in a week when oil dealers previously “wouldn’t see 1.50 in a year,” Childs said. She compared her business with gas stations that also are grappling with rapidly rising prices.

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