December 14, 2017
CT Green Guide

Report: Home energy cost burden rises

Flickr Creative Commons | Matthew Hurst
Flickr Creative Commons | Matthew Hurst
The cost of filling a heating oil tank rose in Connecticut this past winter, making home energy costs less affordable, according to Operation Fuel.

Higher heating prices last winter posed a more "crushing burden" on the state's low-income population, according to energy-assistance nonprofit Operation Fuel.

The "Home Energy Affordability Gap" -- the total amount of home energy bills in excess of what is deemed to be affordable -- amounted to $450 million in 2017, up from $399 million a year prior, said Operation Fuel, which commissions an extensive analysis of the subject annually.

"This increase reflects rising home heating prices in particular," according to the 231-page report, released Wednesday (a particularly chilly day) and prepared by Massachusetts-based Fisher, Sheehan & Colton.

Natural gas heating prices for residential customers were 12 percent higher in March 2017 than March 2016. Fuel oil prices rose even more, by 15 percent, in the October-to-March heating period.

More than 320,000 Connecticut households are at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty level.

For residents in those households, a federal program that goes by the acronym LIHEAP sent $78.7 million to Connecticut in the 2016-2017 heating season, which amounts to 17 percent of the affordability gap, the report said.

Flickr Creative Commons credit: Matthew Hurst

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