An old proverb says “it is better to light a single candle than to curse the darkness.” With apologies to the author, it is just better to keep the lights on.
Hard to imagine in the context of last month’s 88 inches of snow in Cowlesville, N.Y., but the Energy Information Administration (EIA) predicts that this winter will be warmer than last. With a warmer winter comes less heating fuel consumption by households, lower prices because of reduced overall demand for heating fuel, and lower energy bills.
Staying cool in the summer costs most of us more these days as electricity prices rise. For low-income families, especially older people living on a fixed income, this can lead to breaking the family budget - or exposure to excessive heat.
Caring for a child or an aging parent can be costly. Caregivers working outside of the home may be able to offset some of these costs through the federal child and dependent care tax credit (CDCC). In 2010, 6.3 million taxpayers claimed the CDCC, reducing their tax liability by about $3.4 billion. In all likelihood child care is a much larger slice of this pie, particularly given the requirement that the dependent must live with the taxpayer for at least six months. But as the population ages, the number of taxpayers caring for older adults with chronic care needs at home may increase.
Persistent record-setting low temperatures across much of the United States are making this a tough winter for many families. Households face higher heating bills as prices for heating fuels continue to increase with rising demand sparked by the cold.
Low-income households often face challenges in keeping pace with rising energy costs. A recent study shows that despite federal assistance amounting to $3.4 billion, in the winter of 2011-12 low-income households were left struggling to pay $35.1 billion in energy costs.
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