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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?
See our collection of tips and articles:

There are lots of low- and no-cost actions you can take now to lower your energy bill. Many may seem inconsequential, but small changes add up and can have a big effect. Here are 12 ideas to get you started.
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.
Top five tips to cut costs and winterize your home: Windows – Check for leaks around the edges where the window is hinged, slides or meets another unit. Clean the tracks of any debris that might be interfering with seals. Lock..
Those who heat their home with natural gas might see a 50% jump, and households using heating oil and propane could see rates climb 59% and 94%. Amid dropping temperatures and rising heating bills, strategies to lower your heating bill may be sorely needed this winter.
Energy prices are up 33.3% on the year, according to the November consumer price index from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Fuel oil is nearly 60% more expensive than last year, electricity is up 6.5%, and natural gas increased more than 25%.
The cost of heating a home with natural gas, the most common fuel in Ohio, this winter is expected to increase by 30% compared to last year, according to a report released in October by the Energy Information Administration. Propane and heating oil prices will go up 54% and 43%, respectively, while electricity is expected to see the smallest increase at 6%.

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