October 18, 2021

With Temperatures Forecast to Fall and Energy Costs Projected to Rise, Warren Joins Call for a Swift Release of LIHEAP Heating Help

Nearly 40 Senators urge Biden administration to swiftly make LIHEAP funds available to states

Text of Letter (PDF)

Washington, D.C. - With colder weather around the corner and energy costs projected to precipitously increase this winter, United States Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) joined Senator Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), and 35 of their colleagues to urge the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to release funds for the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) as swiftly and at the highest level possible. 

The senators say the federal LIHEAP funding is a crucial lifeline that assists low-income households, as well as seniors on fixed incomes, pay their energy bills and stay safe during the winter.

“Early release of LIHEAP funding is key for our most vulnerable residents who depend on this critical assistance to stay warm and safe during the upcoming cold winter months,” said Senator Warren. “No family should have to choose between paying their energy bills and putting food on the table during the winter season. LIHEAP is a lifeline for our communities. This funding will both help save lives, and will save families from housing and food insecurity as they cope with high energy bills.”

Nationwide, an estimated 5.3 million households received assistance with heating and cooling costs through LIHEAP in 2020.

Earlier this year, Massachusetts received over $176 million in LIHEAP funding to help families heat their homes during the cold winter months. 

The average cost of home heating - over $900 per year nationally - is unaffordable for millions of low-income households. 

With prices surging worldwide for heating oil, natural gas, and other fuels, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) is projecting increasing prices for home heating this winter. The EIA’s Winter Fuels Outlook reports households nationwide could see their heating bills jump as much as 54 percent over last winter. The EIA projects average bills of $1,734 for home heating oil, up from an average of $1,210 last year for the Northeast. The EIA also projects that Northeast customers who use natural gas will see their bills rise to $865, up from $731 last year.  New England, which experiences colder winters than the rest of the region, could be pinched even harder.

LIHEAP is a federally funded program that helps low-income households with their home energy bills by providing payment and/or energy crisis assistance to pay for gas, electric, and other methods customers use to heat their homes. LIHEAP is administered by states and accessed through local Community Action Agencies. Eligibility for LIHEAP is based on income, family size, and the availability of resources.

Senior citizens and those receiving Social Security Disability or SSI benefits are encouraged to apply as early as possible, but applications will be open to everyone through spring of 2022 — or until the funding is exhausted.

Joining Senators Warren, Reed, and Collins in signing this letter were: Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Angus King (I-Maine), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Gary Peters (D-Mich.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Benjamin Cardin (D-Md.), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), John Warner (D-Va.), Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev), and Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.).