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More Americans struggling to pay utilities, but there are options

Electric Meters for Multi-Family Apartment Building
Posted at 10:57 AM, Aug 31, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-31 18:50:43-04

The number of households behind on their utility bills has doubled since the start of the pandemic.

The National Energy Assistance Directors Association estimated that 1 in 12 households struggled to make payments before the pandemic. Now, that number is 1 in 6. With Congress choosing not to extend the expanded Child Tax Credit and 2022 being among the hottest summers on record, more people are struggling to make payments.

“They don't have a lot of choices. They cut back on food, they cut back on medicine, they drive less,” said Mark Wolfe with the National Energy Assistance Directors Association.

He said people need both short-term help and long-term solutions.

In the short term, the association is pushing Congress for more money for the Low Income Energy Assistance Program. It provides a one-time credit to your utility.

Right now the program only has enough funds for 16 percent of eligible Americans. In the long term, the Inflation Reduction Act will provide rebates and credits, Wolfe said.

“The Inflation Reduction Act provides states with close to $9 billion to help family retrofit their homes. By retrofit, I mean replace furnaces in place, cooling systems, install insulation,” Wolfe said.

He said sign-ups for that should open later this year.