Harris to announce over $13 billion in assistance to help cut energy costs this winter

Vice President Kamala Harris on Wednesday will announce 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 in aid 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, this 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 air conditioning, according to the White House.

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The US Department of Energy will also provide $9 billion in funding from the Energy Efficiency Reduction Act to support up to 1.6 million households across the country in improving their homes to reduce energy bills. This will be divided into two rebate programs: one for total home energy retrofits and one for high-efficiency and energy-efficient appliances, according to the White House.

“In addition to reducing costs, energy-efficient construction and equipment upgrades can reduce outdoor and indoor air pollution, improving health in our communities,” the White House said. “In addition, they will reduce millions of tons of greenhouse gas emissions every year to help tackle climate change.

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Harris will discuss the plans while visiting a union hall and training center 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 rise 27% and electricity bills up 10%, according to a recent study from the US Energy Information Administration, an independent agency within the US Department of Energy.

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The National Energy Assistance Directors Association, 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 many contributing factors, including a surge in global energy consumption since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has caused prices to rise, and Russia’s war in Ukraine continues to drive up prices and reduce supplies.

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