LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — Experts expect demand and prices for gas and home heating will go up this winter as OPEC+ decides to slash oil production by two million barrels a day.
The National Energy Assistance Directors Association reports the average home heating cost is expected to rise 17.2% from last winter.
NEADA also reports more than 20 million U.S. families are already behind on utility bills. That's about one in six families.
"I don't like it," Donna Bruszewski, a senior who lives in a single-family home on her fixed income, said to LEX 18 while at the Lexington Senior Center.
"I just cringe," Maryann Lancaster, another senior on a fixed income, said. "I just hate the idea of it because we are scratching to be alive now."
They said their costs for food and gas are already up, but their social security checks are the same. So they're already being forced to cut back.
"There are ways but we shouldn't have to," Bruszewski said.
"You just have to watch how to spend your money and try to spread it out as much as you can," Lancaster said.
The good news is there is help out there. People can call their energy company directly to ask for assistance.
Local nonprofits also have programs to help pay energy bills, like the Community Action Council in Lexington. It will open applications for people to apply for assistance in the coming months.
The Blue Grass Community Action Partnership, which serves other central Kentucky counties, has a similar program.
"All somebody has to do is qualify and that at least frees up a little extra money for them to have that money for food or money, whatever the case may be," BGCAP Executive Director Troy Roberts said.
People can start applying to their assistance program on November 7.
Only certain individuals are eligible. They must live in Kentucky and apply in the county where they live, the bill must be in their name, and they must meet the income eligibility requirements. The left side of the chart below represents the household size and the right represents the maximum monthly household income. For each additional household member above eight, add $511.
1 - $ 1,473
2 - $ 1,984
3 - $ 2,495
4 - $ 3,007
5 - $ 3,518
6 - $ 4,029
7 - $ 4,541
8 - $ 5,052
Anyone wishing to make a donation can make a check out to BGCAP and put "utility assistance" and the county they would like the money to be spent in.