Neal Walters conducts policy research and analysis on issues that affect the financial security of older persons. He has written a variety of reports on matters relating to financial information privacy, identity theft, affordable home utilities, prepaid cards, credit reporting and the subprime mortgage market.

Temperatures Plunge While Heating Bills Soar

This winter millions of Americans reluctantly became acquainted with the term “polar vortex” and the substantial impact it will have on their home heating bills. The 2013-14 winter has been notable for the repeated onslaught of bitterly cold Arctic air masses bringing waves of below-normal temperatures to the country’s Midwest, South and East. The Energy Information Administration (EIA) estimates that through January the average number of heating degree days has been 12 percent higher compared to the previous winter. Not surprisingly, …

What Personal Information Is Your Mobile Device Sharing?

“Always on and always on you” describes the extent to which consumers have integrated cellphones, smartphones and tablets into their daily lives. How deeply do consumers depend on these mobile devices? One survey found 44 percent of cell owners have slept with their phone next to their bed because they were afraid to miss any calls, text messages or other updates during the night. As mobile device use continues to increase, there is growing concern that consumers are unaware how …

High Utility Expenditures a Concern for Older Consumers

Overall utility expenditures declined from 2011 to 2012, but older consumers remain at risk. A recently released AARP Public Policy Institute analysis of 2012 Consumer Expenditure Survey data finds that utility expenditures as a percentage of average annual expenditures are highest for consumers age 50 or older. The report also notes that as household income decreases, utility expenditures become a greater percentage of average annual expenditures for all age groups. Utility spending by older consumers varies by not only age and …

Higher Heating Bills Ahead for Many Older Households

Spectacular fall foliage and cooler nights mean many folks are digging out jackets and sweaters from their closets as well as firing up their home heating systems. While temperatures will provide relief from the high electricity bills from the summer cooling season, rising costs for winter heating may make the respite from high utility bills a brief one. >> Sign up for the AARP Money newsletter An AARP Public Policy Institute analysis projects that during the coming winter heating season …

Rising Water Rates Concern Older Consumers

For most people, the arrival of an extended summer heat wave brings to mind cooling off by the swimming pool and children running through lawn sprinklers. But for over 100,000 residents of Prince George’s County in suburban Maryland, the summer’s first major heat wave arrived with the news that they will face mandatory water restrictions for several days while the utility makes repairs to a failing water main. And it’s not only water pipes that are creating problems for residents …

The Long Hot Summer

The arrival of summer brings warmer temperatures and more hours of daylight. While some folks are happy to pack away their sweaters and say goodbye to high utility bills resulting from winter heating season, the arrival of summer cooling season heralds a spike in electric bills for others. Expenditures on electricity constitute the largest portion of utility expenditures for older consumers and the cost of running air conditioning in summer is a major contributing factor. Because exposure to extreme temperatures …