By Mark Rodeffer, ACEEE Press Secretary
Many U.S. households will pay significantly more for home heating costs—sometimes hundreds of dollars more—this winter. The burden falls disproportionately to low-income and Black, Hispanic, and Native American households, which pay a much larger share of their income on energy bills. Amid the rising costs, policymakers, regulators, and utilities have opportunities to lessen the impact through energy-saving efficiency measures.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration forecasts avera
ge household spending on electricity will increase 10% this winter—with residential gas spending up 28%—largely due to increased global gas prices, and to a lesser extent increased heating needs (caused by weather like the Arctic blast bringing the coldest Christmas in decades to millions of Americans). Some regions are seeing even larger price hikes. In Massachusetts, average monthly electric bills are projected to increase 64%, and across New York State, electric bills are estimated to increase about 30% this winter.
Utilities and states can help reduce bills with efficiency improvements
In homes where energy is wasted due to drafty doors or windows, poor insulation, or inefficient appliances and equipment, efficiency measures can reduce energy use and lower monthly bills. To lessen energy burdens, state legislatures and utility commissions meeting in the new year can direct utilities and state agencies to expand efficiency efforts this winter and in the longer term.
Comprehensive utility efficiency programs can help. For example, the Winter Customer Savings Initiative from National Grid in Massachusetts provides home energy assessments, no-cost air-sealing, incentives paying for 75% to 100% of insulation costs, and $2,750 rebates for qualifying energy-efficient heating, cooling, and water-heating equipment. For costs not covered by the rebates, 0% interest loans are available. National Grid estimates that the average value of home weatherization is more than $4,000 per customer…
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