Feds Are Committing Billions to Help Families With Their Energy Bills—Do You Qualify?
With energy costs sky-high this winter, here’s how the federal government is assisting families in need
A combination of rising energy prices and predictions of a colder winter are squeezing American families trying to save on energy costs. In response, the federal government is stepping in with $4.5 billion in assistance for those who are struggling to pay their utility bills, the White House announced this week.
Additionally, the Department of Energy announced nearly $9 billion under the Inflation Reduction Act to fund home efficiency programs. A new rebate program could support up to 1.6 million households in upgrading their homes to lower energy bills, including the installation of up to 500,000 heat pumps and conducting deep building retrofits through insulation and electrical wiring.
“In addition to lowering costs, energy-efficient and electric building and appliance upgrades can reduce indoor and local outdoor air pollution, improving health in our communities,” the White House said. “In addition, they will cut millions of tons of greenhouse gas emissions every year to help tackle climate change.”
How Much Will Energy Costs Rise This Winter?
Winter energy costs are expected to be the highest in more than a decade. According to a forecast by the Energy Information Administration released last month, the cost of heating a home with natural gas is expected to jump about 28% this winter. Meanwhile, those heating with oil can expect to pay 27% more, and electric heating costs will rise by 10%. This is on top of steep hikes from last winter that drained people’s bank accounts.
How Will the Funding Help Households With Their Energy Bills?
In its statement, the White House noted that new resources, in the form of an additional $4.5 billion, were being earmarked specifically for assistance with home energy costs this winter through the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). LIHEAP is the agency that assists families with energy costs. It provides federally funded assistance to reduce the costs associated with home energy bills, energy crises, weatherization, and minor energy-related home repairs. This past year, LIHEAP served over 5.3 million households, according to the agency, and this support is particularly important during the winter and summer months, as millions deal with extreme weather and natural disasters.
Do I Qualify for LIHEAP?
To take advantage of the LIHEAP program, you’ll need to determine whether you need financial assistance to cover your home energy bills. Generally speaking, you’ll also need to go through your state’s (or tribal territory’s) LIHEAP office. People who participate in certain programs, like SNAP (the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), may automatically qualify for the LIHEAP program. Visit the LIHEAP website to see if you qualify.