Vice President Kamala Harris speaks at campaign event for Maryland gubernatorial candidate Wes Moore, Saturday, Oct. 29, 2022, in Baltimore, Md. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
Vice President Kamala Harris speaks at campaign event for Maryland gubernatorial candidate Wes Moore, Saturday, Oct. 29, 2022, in Baltimore, Md. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

With many American families facing record-high energy costs this coming winter, the Biden-Harris administration has announced several steps to help lessen the burden. 

On Wednesday, Vice President Kamala Harris visited a union hall and training facility in Boston to announce new steps the Biden-Harris administration is taking to help lower energy costs for struggling families this winter

These new steps will support good-paying jobs and manufacturing throughout the country, according to the White House.

One of the key actions that Harris noted on Wednesday was that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will be providing $4.5 billion in assistance to help cut heating costs for the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). In the past year, this program has helped 5.3 million households with energy-related expenses, the White House noted. 

“In addition to covering home heating costs this winter and unpaid utility bills, the program will help families make cost-effective home energy repairs to lower their heating and cooling bills,” a statement reads. 

To be eligible for LIHEAP, one must need financial assistance with home energy costs. And have an annual, pre-tax household income that is below certain thresholds

Individuals who participate in or have family members who participate in other benefit programs—such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program, or the Supplemental Security Income program—may be automatically eligible.

Harris also noted that the U.S. Department of Energy will allocate $9 billion in funding from the Inflation Reduction Act to support up to 1.6 million households across the country in upgrading their homes to decrease energy bills. This money will be split between two new rebate programs: one for new home appliances and one for whole home energy efficiency retrofits. 

This move comes ahead of a winter that experts say could have many Americans facing a 28% jump in their heating bills, as nearly half of U.S. households rely on natural gas. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, heating oil bills are projected to be 27% higher than last year, while electricity bills are projected to be 10% higher. 

The National Energy Assistance Directors Association has also said that energy costs this winter will hit a more than 10-year high

Harris was joined by members of the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail, and Transportation Workers on Wednesday. These workers are partnering with the Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors’ National Association to create a new online resource for building owners and operators to find labor. 

To read more about the Biden-Harris administration’s plan, which also includes manufacturing heat pumps to drive energy efficiency, catalyzing private sector action, and mobilizing community financing, click here

Click here to find out if you qualify for LIHEAP. You can also contact your state or tribal LIHEAP office. For help applying for LIHEAP benefits, you may also call this toll-free number: 1-866-674-6327.