Since the start of 2022, residential utility costs have risen sharply with inflation. The National Energy Assistance Directors Association (NEADA) warns it’s going to get worse this winter.
The agency projects the average cost of home heating will increase by 17.2% since last winter's heating season from $1,025 to $1,202. This would be the second year in a row of major price increases.
Costs began escalating at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Between 2020-21 and 2021-23, the cost of home energy is projected to increase by more than 35%, producing the highest utility costs in a decade.
Natural gas costs, which averaged $573 during the 2020-2021 season, are expected to be $952 during the winter of 2022-23. Electricity costs, which averaged $1,191 two winters ago, are expected to average $1,328 this winter.
Mark Wolfe, executive director of NEADA, said the rise in home energy costs this winter will put millions of lower-income families at risk of falling behind on their energy bills. That, he says, will lead to difficult decisions between paying for food, medicine, and rent.
Even worse in cold-weather markets
Consumers in cold weather markets could feel even more pain. National Grid, a utility serving Boston, recently announced its winter rates that take effect Nov. 1. The utility warns that residential customers using electricity for heat could see their bills rise by 64%.
“At National Grid, this is the highest we’ve experienced,” National Grid Chief Customer Officer Helen Burt told WHDH-TV. “Our customers pay what we pay. We’ve kept our electric distribution and transportation piece of the bill flat, year-over-year, and so this is entirely due to the cost of energy in the marketplace now."
Since the beginning of 2022 geopolitical events have sent energy prices higher. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has led to sanctions on some Russian oil, keeping it off the market and creating shortages.
Europe has increased imports of U.S. liquified natural gas after Russia, a major supplier of gas to Western Europe, reduced the flow of the fuel. In the U.S., an especially hot summer caused utility companies to purchase more natural gas to produce electricity, increasing prices.
With cold weather in much of the U.S. just weeks away, NEADA is asking Congressional leaders for an extra $5 billion to help low-income households keep the heat on this winter.