Vice President Kamala Harris will announce on Wednesday new steps the Biden administration is taking to help lower energy costs for Americans this winter.
The US Department of Health and Human Services is providing $4.5 billion to help reduce heating costs for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), according to the White House.
“In addition to covering this winter’s home heating costs 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.
In the past year, LIHEAP has 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 Inflation Reduction Act funding to support up to 1.6 million households nationwide to upgrade their homes to reduce energy bills. This will be split into two rebate programs: one for whole home energy efficiency retrofits and another for highly efficient and electrical home appliances, according to the White House.
“In addition to lowering costs, upgrading energy-efficient buildings and appliances can reduce indoor and local outdoor air pollution, improving the health of our communities,” the White House said. “In addition, they will cut millions of tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions each year to help combat climate change.”
Harris will discuss the initiatives while visiting 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 expected to be 27% higher and electricity 10% higher, according to a recent analysis by the US Energy Information Administration, an independent agency within the US Department of Energy.
The National Association of Energy Assistance Directors, which represents state LIHEAP directors, 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 rebound in global energy consumption since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, which triggered price spikes, and Russia’s war in Ukraine further increasing prices and reducing supplies.