The Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) is a critical, life-saving program that serves eligible households in all 50 states plus U.S. territories and tribes; including those persons most susceptible to illness or death resulting from unsafe indoor air temperatures. The National Energy and Utility Affordability Coalition (NEUAC), along with our dedicated partners signing this letter, strongly urge Congress to provide adequate funding for LIHEAP in Federal Fiscal Year (FY) 2025 in order to protect access to energy and fuel for families struggling with kitchen table budgets that are increasingly difficult to balance.
Energy is essential to provide heating and cooling, hot water, and refrigeration. For more than 40 years, LIHEAP has reliably and effectively stabilized families and provided benefits that relieve the energy burden for those most vulnerable to unhealthy temperatures. LIHEAP also keeps electricity flowing to life-saving equipment for those with chronic health conditions. LIHEAP prevents disconnection of service, contributes to housing stability and preserves the dignity of those served by helping them maintain access to basic necessities. Most states also use a portion of the LIHEAP funds to provide home weatherization energy efficiency measures, delivering lower utility bills and making homes safer and healthier.
Many LIHEAP recipients survive on their Social Security benefits or other fixed incomes that do not increase when the costs of heating and cooling their homes rises. No one should be forced to choose between food and electricity, medicine or utilities.
Below are some important reasons to support LIHEAP:
▪ The average limited-income household’s energy burden is three times that of other households.
▪ 26% of Americans reduced or forwent basic expenses such as food and medicine so they could pay their energy bill in the last 12 months.
▪ 16% of adults report having kept their home at a temperature that felt unsafe or unhealthy in the past year due to rising energy costs.
▪ One in six people have been unable to pay the full amount of their energy bill at least once in the past year.
▪ LIHEAP restored power or prevented disconnection 3,226,500 times in FY 2022.
▪ 34,000 children were lifted out of poverty because of energy assistance in 2022.
▪ 48,000 people age 65 or older were lifted out of poverty because of energy assistance in 2022.
▪ In FY 2022, 59,180 homes were weatherized with LIHEAP funds, improving the health and safety and affordability for those households.
▪ Three out of 10 households receiving LIHEAP reported using their kitchen stove to heat their home at least once in the year preceding assistance. LIHEAP helps families avoid dangerous heating practices in winter.
▪ One in four households receiving LIHEAP reported that they could not afford to address the non-functioning furnace or cooling system in their homes. LIHEAP helps repair and replace broken systems, keeping homes safe and energy efficient.
▪ In September 2022, Hurricane Ian caused $112.9 billion in damages to homes and property and led to 152 deaths.
▪ The Western and Central United States drought and heat wave of summer 2022 cost $22.2 billion. LIHEAP promotes resiliency during weather-related disasters.
▪ The need for year-round LIHEAP offerings is growing, especially the need for cooling assistance. 1,714 US deaths in 2022 were due to heat-related causes. LIHEAP protects people from extreme heat and cold in their own homes. LIHEAP saves lives.
▪ The rising costs of energy, fuel, and other resources are having an impact on affordability. Ongoing support is necessary to continue to address the serious implications of energy insecurity.
▪ Year-round programming that includes both heating and cooling assistance is becoming increasingly necessary.
▪ Crisis presents a persistent and insidious state of emergency for LIHEAP families. Consistent and comprehensive funding ensures warm families in the winter, and safe, cool homes in the summer.
As commodity prices increase disproportionate to wages and weather-related occurrences become more extreme, funding for LIHEAP has become increasingly strained. LIHEAP is able to serve only about 1 in 6 eligible households with regular appropriations each year. We ask that federal appropriators take into account the need for additional resources to expand cooling programs and address the effects of extreme temperatures and commodity prices on household budgets.
There is a clear need to expand resources to support those who have fallen behind. NEUAC and its national coalition of nearly 300 member organizations, along with the stakeholder organizations across the country that have signed this letter, urge Congress to fully support LIHEAP and maximize funding in FY 2025.
Thank you for your consideration.