NATIONAL NEWS

Americans get another $100 million in federal aid for soaring home energy costs

Jan 25, 2022, 3:28 PM | Updated: Jun 8, 2022, 3:21 pm
SCARBOROUGH, ME - OCTOBER 13: Paul Sabato, a driver with Heatable, delivers oil to a home in Scarbo...
SCARBOROUGH, ME - OCTOBER 13: Paul Sabato, a driver with Heatable, delivers oil to a home in Scarborough on Wednesday, October 13, 2021. After a lull during the pandemic, home energy prices are expected to climb this winter. (Staff photo by Gregory Rec/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images)
(Staff photo by Gregory Rec/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images)

(CNN) — Struggling Americans are getting some more help to pay their home heating bills, which have skyrocketed for many this winter, the Department of Health and Human Services announced Tuesday.

The agency is adding $100 million to the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, which helps families afford heating and cooling. The infusion is the first installment of a five-year, $500 million investment contained in the bipartisan infrastructure package enacted last year.

The money is on top of more than $8 billion flowing into the program from the American Rescue Plan Act, enacted last March, and from Congress’ annual appropriation in its continuing resolution approved in September.

Though this is an unprecedented level of funding for the 41-year-old program, it will likely fall short of meeting all the need, experts have said.

Typically, LIHEAP assists more than 5 million Americans — about 1 in 6 eligible households.

The additional funding means that more families will be served than ever before, said Lanikque Howard, director of the Office of Community Services at HHS’ Administration for Children and Families, which runs the LIHEAP program.

However, she could not estimate how many more would be helped, in part because state agencies that distribute the funds can opt to provide larger awards to fewer people or smaller ones to more residents.

States, municipalities and community organizations can draw on other coronavirus relief measures — including the roughly $45 billion Emergency Rental Assistance program and the $350 billion State and Local Fiscal Recovery Fund — to help residents with home energy costs.

Those who make either 150% of the federal poverty line, which is about $40,000 for a family of four, or 60% of their state median income, whichever is higher, are eligible for LIHEAP.

The pandemic relief funds, meanwhile, have different eligibility criteria and can help a wider swath of households, including middle-income families who don’t qualify for LIHEAP.

More Americans are struggling to pay their heating bills as energy costs surge. While the increase has receded a little from the US Energy Information Administration’s fall forecast, prices remain elevated.

Consumers are expected to pay 39% more for propane, 37% more for heating oil, 28% more for natural gas and 2.7% more for electric heating, on average, compared with last winter, according to the administration’s January outlook. They’ll spend even more if the winter is colder than forecast.

Several state grant recipients told HHS that they are seeing a 20% increase in applications from needy residents, Howard said.

Total utility arrearages increased to about $22.3 billion in 2021, up from $20.2 billion a year earlier, according to a preliminary analysis by the National Energy Assistance Directors’ Association. The number of households in arrears dropped to around 21 million in 2021, down from about 23 million a year earlier.

The pandemic-related utility shut-off moratoriums have ended, though some states offer temporary shut-off protections during the winter.

Those looking for help can call the National Energy Assistance Referral hotline at 866-674-6327 to get connected to their local LIHEAP office. They can also search for a local agency at Liheapch.acf.hhs.gov/help.

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

National News

FILE: The Instagram app logo is displayed on an iPhone on Aug. 3, 2016, in London, England.  (Photo...
Rachel Metz, CNN Business

Instagram is testing AI that verifies your age with a selfie scan. It’s not perfect

Instagram is testing new ways to verify its youngest users' ages, including by using artificial intelligence that analyzes a photo and estimates how old the user is.
12 hours ago
Azuradee France, mother of the child found in a freezer in the basement of her Detroit home. (Credi...
Benjamin Schiller and Artemis Moshtaghian, CNN

Michigan mother charged with killing toddler son whose body was in freezer

A mother in Detroit has been charged with murder after the body of her 3-year-old son was found in a freezer Friday.
12 hours ago
The Supreme Court building in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Friday, Oct. 1, 2021. The court in its nex...
Associated Press

Supreme Court rules for inmates seeking reduced prison terms

The Supreme Court has made it easier for certain prison inmates to seek shorter sentences under a bipartisan 2018 federal law.
12 hours ago
Emergency lights...
Associated Press

Police say restaurant workers shot in argument over mayo

Police say a man who complained there was too much mayonnaise on his sandwich opened fire at a Subway sandwich shop in Atlanta, killing one employee and injuring another.
12 hours ago
Law enforcement officers stand inside the secure perimeter of the U.S. Supreme Court Building as pr...
JESSICA GRESKO, Associated Press

Supreme Court sides with coach who sought to pray after game

The Supreme Court has sided with a football coach from Washington state who sought to kneel and pray on the field after games.
12 hours ago
NASA has carried out its first commercial spaceport launch outside the United States. (Equatorial L...
Kathleen Magramo, CNN

NASA launches first rocket from Australian space center

NASA has successfully launched a rocket from Australia's remote Northern Territory, making history as the agency's first commercial spaceport launch outside the United States.
12 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

hand holding 3d rendering mobile connect with security camera for security solutions...
Les Olson

Wondering what security solutions are right for you? Find out more about how to protect your surroundings

Physical security helps everyone. Keep your employees, clients, and customers safe with security solutions that protect your workplace.
Many rattan pendant lights, hay hang from the ceiling.Traditional and simple lighting....
Lighting Design

The Best Ways to Style Rattan Pendant Lighting in Your Home

Rattan pendant lights create a rustic and breezy feel, and are an easy way to incorporate this hot trend into your home decor.
Earth day 2022...
1-800-GOT-JUNK?

How Are You Celebrating Earth Day 2022? | 4 Simple Ways to Celebrate Earth Day and Protect the Environment

Earth Day is a great time to reflect on how we can be more environmentally conscious. Here are some tips for celebrating Earth Day.
Get Money Online...

More Ways to Get Money Online Right Now in Your Spare Time

Here are 4 easy ways that you can get more money online if you have some free time and want to make a little extra on the side.
Lighting trends 2022...

Lighting Trends 2022 | 5 Beautiful Home Lighting Trends You Can Expect to See this Year and Beyond

This is where you can see the latest lighting trends for 2022 straight from the Lightovation Show at the Dallas World Trade Center.
What Can't You Throw Away in the Trash...

What Can’t You Throw Away in the Trash? | 5 Things You Shouldn’t Throw in to Your Trash Can

What can't you throw away in the trash? Believe it or not, there are actually many items that shouldn't be thrown straight into the trash.
Americans get another $100 million in federal aid for soaring home energy costs