Heating Costs Are Way Up This Year. Here’s How To Respond.

By: James Flippin · September 30, 2022 · Reading Time: 3 minutes

A 10 Year High

According to a new report from the National Energy Assistance Directors Association, Americans are looking at a significant increase in their home heating bills this winter. In fact, you’d have to go back over more than a decade to see a larger single-year bump. From last winter, the NEADA’s report predicts home heating costs will be 17.2% higher. Going back to the winter before the pandemic, costs will be up 42%.

It’d be easy to explain this trend by pointing to inflation, but experts say that’s not the only factor. While the previous 12 month’s run-up in prices has certainly contributed, so has this past summer’s soaring temperatures. Because consumers cranked up the AC to stay cool, natural gas demand soared, as it was used to generate that electricity. Natural gas supplies are also lower than normal due to repeated COVID-19 shutdowns. There are other contributing factors as well, such as a number of coal-fired and nuclear power plants going offline. All of this combines to push up energy prices.

Winterize for the Win

In order to help lower your monthly heating bill, there are some steps homeowners and renters can take before the cold weather sets in. The first is to check your windows, which are notoriously one of the leakiest parts of any building when it comes to heat loss.

Checking your windows for leaks is important, as is responding with methods like removable caulk, adhesive films, and spray foam. A more permanent option is to install new, energy-efficient windows, which can save hundreds of dollars each year. Of course, that’s also an expense in its own right.

Other things to think about include lowering your hot water heater’s temperature, turning down the thermostat three degrees at night, and closing the damper on your fireplace when it’s not in use. It’s also a good idea to consider a professional energy audit. Some utility companies actually offer the service at no charge.

Other Sources of Help

There are also government programs that aim to help low-income residents with heating costs. The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program is run by the US Department of Health and Human Services. There are nearly $4 billion dollars distributed through this program to the various states, each of which set their own income-level threshold.

States can set their threshold as low as 110% below the federal poverty level, and as high as 160% above it. For 2022 the federal poverty level is $13,590 annual income for individuals, $18,310 for two people, and higher from that point.

Some charitable organizations like the Salvation Army also offer assistance on heating bills. As consumer’s spending power has been reduced severely by inflation – and while heating costs rise for a myriad of reasons – every little bit helps.

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