Summer is here, and for most parts of the country, it’s predicted to be a hot one. Once again, we’ll hover in air-conditioned homes, offices, coffee shops, and shopping malls. And all of that comes with a cost – a big cost – in the form of higher monthly electricity bills that anyone on a fixed income will find hard to swallow. The amount that customers spend on electricity for their homes is based primarily on how much power they use. That’s why upticks in electricity bills are often tied to changes in outside temperature. The typical U.S. household will spend an average of $426 for electricity this summer, an increase of about 3 percent from last summer, according to the U.S. Energy Information Agency. For many retirees, like 84-year-old Lucille Moore of Indianapolis, there just isn’t room in the budget for higher utility costs. “A lot of seniors are on expensive medication, and a lot of them can’t afford to deviate with unexpected (utility) bills like this,” says Moore. An AARP Indiana volunteer and retired electronics factory worker, Moore is already fighting her electricity provider, Indianapolis Power & Light Co., over unexplained recent spikes in her bill. Her electric bill shot up in February to $344, a shocker considering she’s usually charged about $100 a month. Making matters worse for Moore and others in Indianapolis, IPL wants to impose a new monthly charge of $27, up from $17, on nearly every utility customer before they even turn a light on. AARP Indiana is fighting this charge – along with other revenue requests – that would give $97 million a year for IPL. AARP state offices are working hard to save customers, like Lucille, money on their monthly utility bills. Here’s a look at recent activity in a few states:
As we enter the heart of summer, the temperature isn’t the only thing on the rise — utility bills are increasing, too. For seniors especially, keeping cool in these hot summer months isn’t just a luxury, it’s a necessity for health and safety — one that can be hard to afford for some. As my colleague Joan McCarty of AARP New York simplifies it, “every extra dollar that goes to a utility bill is a dollar less for food and medicine.”
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.
There are plenty of good deals to keep an eye open for this summer, including some of the best prices of the year on everything from jewelry and computers, to ketchup and mustard.
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