US electric bills could increase 8% this summer amid rising temperatures

Households could pay an average of $719 from June through September, according to a report.

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SOURCEEcoWatch

A new report from the National Energy Assistance Directors Association (NEADA) and the Center for Energy Poverty and Climate (CEPC) anticipates that households in the U.S. will see about a 7.9% increase in their electric bills this summer as temperatures increase. This summer also follows the record-hot summer of 2023.

Households could pay an average of $719 from June through September, according to the report. By comparison, U.S. households paid $661 on average in electricity during June through September 2023. Ten years ago, the average payment for this same time period (June through September) was around $476, NEADA reported.

For low-income households, the increasing electric bill prices will put families at higher risks of extreme heat. For one, low-income households are more likely to live in heat island areas and have less access to methods of cooling that are affordable, NEADA reported. There have also been $2 billion of cuts in funding from the federal Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) from 2023 to 2024, despite last summer being the hottest on record.

“We must treat access to cooling like we treat access to heating. We must develop programs that enable low-income families to stay safe and in their homes during extreme temperatures,” Mark Wolfe, lead author of the report and executive director of NEADA, said in a press release. “Our current strategies, including access to cooling centers, may have been appropriate when they were designed in the 1970s when summer temperatures were lower and heat waves were sporadic. They are inadequate to provide relief from the record-breaking high temperatures and continuous heat waves that have become our new normal in the summer months.”

About one million households are expected to lose access to the heating and cooling benefits provided through LIHEAP. Most of the program’s funding goes toward heating, leaving more families vulnerable to the extreme heat expected for this summer.

NEADA and CEPC are asking Congress to restore funding to LIHEAP ahead of this summer, or at the latest, before summer 2025. Further, they are recommending that states establish shut-off protections and invest in improving the energy-efficiency of low-income households through retrofitting, solar panels and heat pumps. As NEADA pointed out, these upgrades could be made possible through the High Efficiency Electric Home Rebate Program (HEEHRA), part of the Inflation Reduction Act.

“If people can’t afford air conditioners in the summer, we shouldn’t be surprised that people become ill and go to hospitals,” Wolfe told The Guardian. “Now with extended heatwaves, more families need access to affordable cooling.”

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