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Assoc. Releases National Winter Heating Costs Report; Says Bill Spikes Will Be Biggest Burden on Older Low-Income
NEW YORK, New York – A new report on winter heating costs, out today from AARP’s Public Policy Institute, holds harsh news for New Yorkers: higher heating bills are on the way. The national report, taking a look at all regions’ primary winter heating fuels and anticipated cost changes, says this region could see heating bills spike upwards of 13 percent.
New Yorkers already pay the highest electric bills in the continental United States and the second highest in the nation, 60 percent above the national average, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. The report finds those bills too are expected to increase.
“High home heating bills can offset the delicate balance older New Yorkers already have when it comes to affording the basics,” said eth Finkel State Director for AARP in New York State. “Too often, older New Yorkers have to choose between paying their heating bill and paying for their prescriptions.”
The report shows that the 30 percent of older individuals who have incomes under $20,000 will be hit the hardest, since this group spends the highest percentage of household income on heating bills. Those in the group who heat their homes with oil will spend 18 percent of their household income on heating costs. In New York, older individuals can be hit hard. Here, the average monthly Social Security check of $1,300 accounts for roughly half of an older person’s income – and about 73 percent of income for low-and middle-income older adults.
The news of higher heating bills comes on the heels of an AARP survey of New York residents 50+ finding 62 percent are concerned (12 percent extremely concerned,15 percent very concerned and 35 percent somewhat concerned) about their ability to afford their utility bills over the next two years. Sixty percent of those surveyed consider the monthly cost of their utilities a problem.
There is help available:
Under the federally funded Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP), New York State has roughly $190 million to help eligible individuals and families pay their home heating bills this winter. New York HEAP funding is down from about $204 million for last winter.
The program provides eligible households with a benefit of anywhere from $400 to over $600. New Yorkers can begin applying for HEAP benefits Nov. 18th., AARP urges people to do so early, since the funds are available on a first-come-first-serve basis:
2013-2014 HEAP Benefit Gross Monthly Income Guidelines (available funds continue to increase with households).
|Household Size||Maximum Gross Monthly Income|
To learn more about HEAP, see eligibility requirements, and to apply for the benefit, visit: http://otda.ny.gov/programs/heap/program.asp
AARP New York is urging Gov. Andrew Cuomo to help combat soaring heating bills in the state by creating an independent utility consumer advocate office as recommended by a panel the Governor appointed to investigate utility performance.
AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization, with a membership of more than 37 million, that helps people turn their goals and dreams into real possibilities, strengthens communities and fights for the issues that matter most to families such as healthcare, employment and income security, retirement planning, affordable utilities and protection from financial abuse. We advocate for individuals in the marketplace by selecting products and services of high quality and value to carry the AARP name as well as help our members obtain discounts on a wide range of products, travel, and services. A trusted source for lifestyle tips, news and educational information, AARP produces AARP The Magazine, the world’s largest circulation magazine; AARP Bulletin; www.aarp.org; AARP TV & Radio; AARP Books; and AARP en Español, a Spanish-language website addressing the interests and needs of Hispanics. AARP does not endorse candidates for public office or make contributions to political campaigns or candidates. AARP Foundation is an affiliated charity of AARP that is working to win back opportunity for struggling Americans 50+ by being a force for change on the most serious issues they face today: housing, hunger, income and isolation. AARP has staffed offices in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Learn more at www.aarp.org.