Vice President Kamal Harris will announce new steps the Biden administration is taking to help lower energy costs for Americans this winter on Wednesday.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is providing $4.5 billion in assistance to help 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 heating and cooling bills,” the White House said in a statement.
Last year, LIHEAP helped 5.3 million households across the U.S. with heating, cooling and weatherization, according to the White House.
The US Department of Energy will also provide $9 billion in funding from the Inflation Reduction Act to support up to 1.6 million households nationwide to improve their homes to lower their energy bills. According to the White House, it will be split into two rebate programs: one for whole-home energy efficiency upgrades and one for highly efficient and electric appliances.
“In addition to reducing costs, improvements to energy-efficient and electrical buildings and appliances can reduce indoor and local outdoor air pollution, improving health in our communities,” the White House said. “In addition, they will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by millions of tons each year to help tackle climate change.”
Harris will discuss the initiatives during a visit to a union hall and training center in Boston on Wednesday, according to the White House.
Nearly half of U.S. households use natural gas for heating, and their bills could rise 28% this winter compared to last winter, while fuel bills are projected to be 27% higher and electricity bills up 10%, according to a recent analysis by the U.S. Energy Information Administration. , an independent agency within the US Department of Energy.
The National Association of Directors of Energy Assistance, which represents LIHEAP state directors, said in a recent report that energy costs are expected to be the highest this winter in more than a decade. This comes at a time when inflation is rising sharply, with US consumer prices rising to a 40-year high of 6.6% in September.
A number of factors are contributing to this, including the rise in global energy consumption since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has driven up prices, and Russia’s war in Ukraine, which continues to raise prices and reduce supplies.