Drivers have been complaining about rising gas costs since last autumn, and inflation has been a source of anxiety for Americans for over a year. However, neither discomfort prepared consumers for the unpleasant jolt of receiving their first gas and electric bills of the winter season this week.
The fact that your heating expenditures are increasing shouldn’t come as a complete surprise. Several government agencies predicted last autumn that heating expenditures would rise by 5 percent to 50 percent this winter, mostly due to the growing cost of oil and natural gas.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that inflation is now running at around 7.5 percent, a 40-year high – with gasoline costs increasing by 27 percent.
However, many Americans have been caught off a surprise by rising heating expenditures that surpass inflation and are far higher than estimates predicted.
Following the receipt of her $350 January heating bill, one Minnesota homeowner admitted to a local CBS news station that she “thinks I gasped.” “I went back to January , and it was more than twice what it was the previous year.”
In many parts of the nation, similar complaints are being filed. Residents in Wyoming have reported an increase in their heating expenses of $100 or more compared to the same time a year earlier.
According to state energy authorities, residential gas prices in Iowa climbed by 106 percent in December. This year, the natural gas provider for portions of Missouri, Mississippi, and Alabama boosted rates by 96 percent. After a particularly cold January, consumers in those states saw their bills climb by $50 to $150 per month, depending on their income.
New Hampshire, Wisconsin, northern California, New York City, and Ohio are all experiencing the same situation.
Even Hawaii, which is known for its tropical climate, is impacted. As a result of higher oil costs, the average energy bill in the Aloha State has increased to $180, compared to roughly $140 during the previous winter.
Why Is My Heating Bill So High?
The power firms maintain that they are not to a fault. They blame the growing cost of energy throughout the globe for the high monthly costs that many individuals face.
According to Megan McFarland, a Pacific Gas & Electric spokesman, “natural gas prices have soared throughout the world.” McFarland was speaking to an NBC affiliate in California.
According to her, “we’ve witnessed a 90 percent increase in costs compared to previous winter.” She also said that “we’re not earning any money out of this scenario.”
In a recent email to clients, Con Edison, which serves gas and electricity in the greater New York City region, explained how a jump in energy expenses combined with unusually frigid temperatures in January has resulted in skyrocketing utility bills.
The statement said that “Con Edison purchases energy on the wholesale market and gives it to consumers at the same price we paid without making a profit.”
Brendan Conway, a spokeswoman for We Energies, a Wisconsin-based energy provider, has said that increasing natural gas costs should also be held responsible for the state’s high heating expenditures.
During the coronavirus outbreak, “there simply wasn’t enough natural gas generated because there wasn’t enough demand,” he said. “And then, since the demand has surged so dramatically in the last year or two, there hasn’t been enough supply, resulting in higher pricing.”
How To Decrease Heating Bills
Upon being asked for ideas on how people may cut their heating expenses, Conway suggested several tried and true money-saving tactics such as turning down the thermostat, putting on an extra layer over your clothes, and opening the blinds when it’s sunny outside.
His advice was to “let Mother Nature heat your dwelling.” High utility costs may be a major source of frustration for low-income families in the United States.
According to the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC), an environmental advocacy organization, low-income families in the United States spend three times as much of their income on energy bills as the rest of the population.
There are various programs available to assist low-income households in paying their energy bills around the nation.
If you believe you may be eligible for financial help, go to Benefits.gov to find out if you are and who to contact in your region for further information.
This year, several governments are taking particular measures to lessen the burden of soaring heating expenditures on their residents. The state of Maine, for example, is considering a legislative proposal that would provide a one-time credit of $90 to low-income families to assist them with power costs.
Another plan in Illinois would provide middle-class people with tax breaks to help them pay their heating bills. This year, low-income people in New Jersey will also benefit from increased government aid with their winter heating expenditures.
Even if you do not qualify for assistance with your heating payment, it is worthwhile to contact your local provider and ask for assistance. Payment plans are available from most companies; they may also provide general recommendations for conserving energy and decreasing your expenses.
NRDC analyst Laura Goldberg told Money that energy costs are significantly less volatile than those of fossil fuels, which are constantly “at the mercy of unanticipated geopolitical and meteorological events.”
Prices of retail energy bills are significantly less likely to jump unexpectedly since they are often based on a diversified and hedged portfolio of resources rather than a single resource.
Money received an email from Goldberg, who stated that “we hope this trend to resume as more U.S. families evolution to more sterile electricity for room heating and water heating, resulting in lower gas sales and making the gas infrastructure relatively more expensive for remaining gas customers.”