Vice President Kamala Harris will announce on Wednesday new steps the Biden administration is taking to lower energy costs for Americans this winter.
The US Department of Health and Human Services is offering $4.5 billion in help to reduce heating costs for the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), according to the White House.
“In addition to covering home heating costs this winter and unpaid utility bills, the program will help families make cost-effective home energy repairs to lower their heating and cooling bills,” the White House said in a statement.
Last year, LIHEAP helped 5.3 million households across the United States with heating, cooling and weatherization, according to the White House.
The US Department of Energy will also allocate $9 billion in funding from the Inflation Reduction Act to support up to 1.6 million households nationwide to upgrade their homes to reduce energy bills. This will be separated into two rebate programs: one for whole home energy efficiency retrofits and another for highly efficient electrical appliances, according to the White House.
“In addition to reducing costs, energy-efficient and electrical building and appliance upgrades can reduce indoor and local outdoor air pollution, improving health in our communities,” the White House said. “In addition, they will reduce millions of tons of greenhouse gas emissions each year to address climate change.”
Harris will discuss the initiatives during a visit to a union hall and training facility in Boston on Wednesday, according to the White House.
Nearly half of US households rely on natural gas for heating and their bills could jump 28% this winter compared to last winter, while heating oil bills are projected to be 27% higher and electricity bills 10% higher are, according to a recent analysis by the US Energy Information Administration, an independent agency within the US Department of Energy.
The National Energy Assistance Directors Association, which represents the state directors of LIHEAP, said in a recent report that energy costs are expected to be the highest this winter in more than a decade. This comes amid rising inflation rates, with US consumer prices rising to a 40-year high of 6.6% in September.
There are a number of contributing factors, including a decline in global energy consumption since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has triggered price spikes, and Russia’s war in Ukraine further raising prices and reducing supply.