‘I expect a tsunami of shutoffs’: 20 million American households are behind an average of $788 on their utility bills — here are 3 simple ways to drop your monthly costs
The U.S. consumer price index rose 7.7% in October from a year ago — down from a 40-year high of 9.1% in June. But hot inflation continues to hit consumers hard.
According to the National Energy Assistance Directors Association (NEADA), roughly 20 million households in the U.S. — one out of six homes — are behind on their utility bills.
As of August, these families owe about $16.1 billion in total, with an average amount owed of $788 — and the consequences of this could be dire, especially as home heat costs are expected to reach their highest level in over 10 years.
“I expect a tsunami of shutoffs,” Jean Su, a senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity, told Bloomberg.
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Electricity prices have spiked this year due to the skyrocketing cost of natural gas. According to the Energy Information Administration, natural gas is the biggest source of electricity generation in the U.S.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that October prices for electricity jumped 14.1% from a year ago. And just a few months before in August, this marker recorded its biggest 12-month increase since August 1981.
According to Mark Wolfe, executive director of NEADA, the country is “heading towards a period of unaffordable energy prices.” Wolfe called on Congress to act to increase funding to offset increasing prices.
But if you can’t wait on lawmakers for relief, there are small things you can do to lower your energy bill. Every bit counts.
Compared to big household appliances, light bulbs don’t seem like a big deal in terms of energy consumption. But it all adds up.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, lighting accounts for approximately 15% of an average household’s electricity use.
To lower the lighting portion of your electricity bill, consider LED bulbs. They consume up to 90% less energy than traditional incandescent bulbs and can last up to 25 times longer.
The Department of Energy says by switching to LED lighting, the average household can save about $225 in energy costs per year.
That said, LED bulbs tend to be more expensive to buy than incandescent bulbs. To get the greatest energy savings, look for LED bulbs that are ENERGY STAR-rated.
Seal and insulate
It’s going to be an expensive winter, according to the NEADA. The average cost of home heating is expected to increase by 17.2% this winter — averaging $1,208 compared to $1,031 last winter.
This will be the second year in a row of major price increases after a 36% spike last year.
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You might want to consider air sealing your house and adding insulation. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that by doing so, homeowners can save about 15% on heating and cooling costs, or an average of 11% on their total energy costs.
You can use caulk for cracks and openings around door and window frames. You can also try weatherstripping to seal movable components such as doors and windows.
Line dry your laundry
Some clothes require line drying because it’s more gentle to specific fibers. But the technique can also save you money.
A clothesline obviously costs a lot less than a gas or electric dryer. And it costs even less to operate because it relies on the power of sunlight — which is free.
Project Laundry List — a website that promotes the benefits of line drying — says switching to line drying can reduce your electricity bill by more than $25 per month. Plus, sunlight can work as a natural bleaching agent and disinfectant.
Washing your clothes in cold water can also lead to savings on your energy bill.
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This article provides information only and should not be construed as advice. It is provided without warranty of any kind.