Think your heating bill is too expensive? Your state could be advocating for your right to pay less when you want to stay warm this winter!
Lower energy bills could result from the new tax law
Facing the winter sometimes means facing big hikes in what you pay to heat your home.
According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), you should expect anywhere from an 8% to an 18% spike in winter energy costs this year!
The EIA’s Winter Fuels Outlook predicts propane users will face the biggest hike (+18%), followed closely by homeowners who use oil to heat their homes (+17%).
Feeling slightly less of a pinch in the wallet will be natural gas customers (+12%) and electric heating customers (+8%).
In light of the steep heating bills you’re likely to face, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey is leading a bipartisan coalition of 18 state attorneys general and consumer advocates that want utility companies to pass savings from the new tax law along to you.
In a letter sent to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), Healey’s coalition noted that customers could lose out big if energy rates remain static when tax-related winds of change are blowing.
“This new tax [law] gives electric, gas and oil companies a major tax break, and unless FERC adjusts the rates, utilities customers will be overpaying for services by hundreds of millions of dollars.”
(Editor’s note: The passage of the GOP’s revamped tax code lowered the corporate tax rate from from 35% to 21%.)
Fortunately, there is historical precedent for the lower rates the AGs are seeking.
FERC let utilities file for rate decreases in 1987 after then President Ronald Reagan lowered the corporate tax rate from 46% to 34%.
So here’s hoping this happens again!
The full list of state attorneys general and other entities who have signed on to the letter include:
- California’s Attorney General
- Connecticut’s Attorney General
- Illinois’ Attorney General
- Kentucky’s Attorney General
- Massachusetts’ Attorney General
- Maryland’s Attorney General
- Nevada’s Attorney General
- New York’s Attorney General
- North Carolina’s Attorney General
- Rhode Island’s Attorney General
- Texas’ Attorney General
- Virginia’s Attorney General
- Connecticut’s Office of Consumer Counsel
- Florida’s Office of Public Counsel
- Maine’s Office of the Public Advocate
- New Hampshire’s Office of the Consumer Advocate
- Rhode Island’s Division of Public Utilities and Carriers
- Vermont’s Department of Public Service
Simple ways to lower your energy bill
While we don’t know the outcome of this appeal, this much is sure…There are some simple things you can do right now to lower your winter heating bill!
- Seal drafts around doors and windows using weather stripping or caulking.
- Make sure your attic is well insulated.
- Get a water heater blanket if your unit is over five years old.
- Use natural sunlight for heating when available.
- Put your ceiling fans in reverse during the winter to move rising heat downward.
- Make sure your vents are not blocked by furniture.
- Get a programmable thermostat. If you really want to kick it up a notch, get a Nest.
- Use a humidifier. Adding moisture lets you lower the thermostat without feeling much colder.
- Put plastic film over windows.
- Try zoned heating. Close off rooms and vents in rooms that are not in use.
- Close off your fireplace and the flue on your chimney.
- Consider warming your bed with an electric blanket instead of bumping up the thermostat at night.