Wednesday 2 November 2022 06:22 PM Winter energy woes hit early: 29M US households ALREADY cannot pay their bills trends now
Some 29 million households have been unable to pay their energy bills this past year, according to a survey that says the cold winter weather and rising utility costs will only worsen the crisis.
Data from the US Census Bureau show that many more American families — 43 million households — have cut back spending on groceries, medicine and doctors' visits, so they could settle an energy bill.
The research exposes fault lines across the US, with southern Republican-leaning states like Texas, Mississippi and West Virginia home to larger numbers of struggling families while Washington DC, Vermont and Delaware are the least affected.
The survey by finance website LendingTree comes as the White House unveiled plans to spend $13 billion to bring down energy costs for poorer families, with help for heating costs and unpaid utility bills this winter
Just days before the midterm elections, voters are increasingly focussed on the economy and the cost of living crisis, meaning President Joe Biden's Democratic Party could well lose control of Congress to the Republicans.
Texas, Mississippi and West Virginia are home to larger numbers of families struggling to pay energy bills while Washington DC, Vermont and Delaware are the least affected
'Inflation is continuing to take a brutal toll on some Americans,' Matt Schulz, a credit analyst who was involved in the study, told DailyMail.com.
'It has whittled their already-razor-thin financial margin for error down to zero, pushing them to the point where they're having to cut back on some basic expenses just to keep the lights on.'
Researchers found that nearly a quarter of households were unable to wholly pay their energy bills this past year, and more than a third had reduced or skipped basic costs, like medicine or food, to pay a bill.
A fifth of householders has lowered their heating or air conditioning so much that the temperature in their home felt 'unsafe or unhealthy,' researchers said.
For hard-up families, the 'situation isn't likely to get better anytime soon', warned Schulz.
DailyMail.com has spoken to dozens of householders across the US who say they're struggling to make ends meet, and on Wednesday many took to social media to air their concerns.
'My energy bills have never been higher,' posted an Oklahoma resident, who accused the Biden administration of 'bankrupting the country'. A New Yorker, meanwhile, said he'd 'never paid more' for electricity.
'I can only imagine what our bills will be like his winter,' he added.
The research echoes findings from the National Energy Assistance Directors Association (NEADA), which last month said about one in six households were in arrears for their electric or gas bills — a