EAST PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Homeowners might have to pay more to stay warm this winter.
A recent report released by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) found that, compared to last year, households across the country that primarily use heating oil will spend 43% more, while those using propane will spend 54% more.
EIA data shows Rhode Island customers paid nearly $4.00 per gallon this week to heat their homes.
The EIA also anticipates nearly 50% of Americans who primarily use natural gas to heat their homes will spend 30% more than they spent on average last year, according to the report.
As 12 News reported last month, Rhode Islanders who use natural gas could see a rate increase of nearly 7% come winter.
“For a residential heating that is a total of about $93, an additional $93 compared to the last heating season,” explained Thomas Kogut, a spokesperson for the R.I. Division of Public Utilities and Carriers (DPUC).
Kogut said distribution costs and supply components are two reasons behind the rate hike, which the DPUC will vote on in an open meeting later this month. The increase would then go into effect on Monday, Nov. 1.
Anyone who’s having a hard time paying fuel costs can apply for the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), which is funded by federal grants.
According to the R.I. Department of Human Services (DHS), LIHEAP issued more than 26,000 heating grants through its non-crisis program last year, and the agency expects more people will need help this winter.
To be eligible, a household must meet 60% of the state’s median income levels. Both homeowners and renters can apply, the DHS said, and family size, fuel type, and minimum delivery requirements are all taken into consideration.
The DHS said it works with Community Action Program (CAP) partners to help people fill out their LIHEAP applications. There’s also a LIHEAP crisis assistance program that helps people who had their heat turned off because they failed to pay their “regulated energy bill.”
The DHS will be able to help more Rhode Islanders this winter, the agency said, since additional funds from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) will help prevent it from running out of money for heating assistance.
To make its estimates in the report, the EIA used information from the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) which anticipates a colder than average winter.