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