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

Vice President Kamala Harris will announce on Wednesday new steps the Biden administration is taking to lower energy costs for Americans this winter.

The US 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 and unpaid utility bills this winter, 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.

Over the past year, LIHEAP has 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 allocate $9 billion in funds from the Department of Inflation Reduction Act to help 1.6 million households nationwide upgrade their homes to lower energy bills. It will be separated into two rebate programs: one for whole-home energy efficiency retrofits and another for highly efficient and electric home appliances, according to the White House.

“In addition to reducing costs, energy-efficient and electric building and appliance upgrades 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 per year to combat climate change.”

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Harris will discuss the initiatives during a visit to Union Hall and a training facility in Boston on Wednesday, according to the White House.

Nearly half of U.S. households rely on natural gas for heating and their bills could rise 28% this winter compared to last winter, while heating oil bills are projected to be 27% higher and electricity bills 10% higher, according to a recent analysis. US Energy Information Administration, an independent agency of the US Department of Energy.

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The National Energy Assistance Directors Association, which represents LIHEAP’s 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 amid rising inflation, with US consumer prices rising to a 40-year high of 6.6% in September.

A number of factors have contributed, including an increase in global energy consumption since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, which has driven up prices, and Russia’s war in Ukraine, which has further increased prices and reduced supply.

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