Money & The Economy

Inflation-Pinched Americans Will Pay More To Keep Cool This Summer, Report Projects

Ratepayers across the U.S. could see considerable increases in their utility bills this summer as the economy continues to struggle, according to a new report published by two energy-focused organizations.

Home energy bills are expected to jump by nearly 8% this summer across the country, according to a new report by the National Energy Assistance Directors Association (NEADA) and the Center for Energy, Poverty, and Climate. The projected increases are not evenly distributed across the country, and would likely leave Americans — many of whom are already behind on their utility payments — feeling even more squeezed by inflationary pressures affecting most sectors of the economy.

“Summer cooling costs are coming right on top of this winter’s higher heating season costs,” the report reads. “The level of utility consumer debt – the amount consumers owe their utilities – has increased from $17.5 billion in January 2023 to $20.3 billion in December 2023, and NEADA estimates that 16% (21.2 million) of all U.S. households are behind on their energy bills.”

The costs Americans incur for keeping their homes cool during the summer have increased from an average of $556 in 2020, the last full year before President Joe Biden took office, to $662 in 2023 and an expected $719 for this summer, according to the report. Biden — whose administration has unleashed a $1 trillion-plus green agenda in his first term — has had to handle elevated energy prices during his presidency, but some critics have blamed his administration’s policies for those spikes.

The Mid-Atlantic region — consisting of Pennsylvania, New York and New Jersey — is projected to endure the sharpest increases, with ratepayers expected to pay 12.2% more to keep their homes cool this summer than they did in 2023, according to the report. The Pacific states are also expected to see an increase of more than 12%.

New Englanders can expect to see their bills increase by more than 5% relative to 2023, while ratepayers in Midwestern states could see increases ranging from 2% to more than 10%, according to the report. Americans living in the Southeast could see a spike of more than 7%, while the states situated along the Rocky Mountains may see an increase of 6.5%.

The joint report could be bad news for Americans already feeling inflation’s pinch, with metrics showing that prices have increased by nearly 20% since Biden assumed office in 2021. Higher utility bills will be especially burdensome for lower-income Americans, the report states.

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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