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High Heating Bills Spur AARP State Offices Into Action

winter heating

En español | Energy prices are up nearly 18 percent over the past year, according to government data. That’s likely to hit Americans’ pocketbooks hard this winter, as temperatures drop and heating bills rise. So AARP state offices are fighting back against proposed utility hikes and raising awareness of existing energy assistance programs.

Our Illinois, Indiana, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York offices have updated their websites with information about how to enroll in their respective Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program — the federal initiative that helps eligible households with heating and cooling costs, bill payment, weatherization and energy-related home repairs. In Massachusetts, we successfully pushed state lawmakers to add an additional $57 million to the program. And in Connecticut, we’re pushing lawmakers to expand funding and eligibility for energy assistance programs as utility costs continue to rise. 

We’ve also been urging officials across the country to reject unnecessary utility rate increases and to avoid shutoffs. Our Colorado office last month successfully lobbied the state’s utility commission to blunt the scope of a proposed utility hike. And we continue to fight proposed rate increases in Oklahoma and California.

Rising energy prices hit older adults and those on fixed incomes particularly hard. A 2018 AARP study found that roughly 1.6 million of the 3.3 million households that couldn’t afford heating fuel, electricity or natural gas were headed by someone 50 or older and that older adults with low incomes were significantly more likely to rely on energy assistance programs than the rest of the population. Rising prices strain those state and federal support programs, as well as older adults’ pocketbooks. And with older adults more susceptible to conditions like hypothermia, colder weather and an inability to cover heating bills also brings health risk.

Learn about how to cover rising utility bills this winter and read more about our state advocacy.

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