AGA Warns Administration Steps Could Raise Energy Bills
Washington, D.C. – The American Gas Association (AGA) is warning the Biden-Harris Administration that they could miss opportunities for meaningful energy efficiency and emissions improvements by instituting policies focusing on one energy source. The Administration made several announcements this week aimed at lowering energy costs for working families, but if not implemented correctly, they could have the opposite result.
“Americans will be facing higher energy costs this winter and should be concerned that the government is implementing programs that will choose the appliances you use to heat your home or cook your family meals which can increase energy use and utility bills,” said AGA President and CEO Karen Harbert.
Vice President Harris traveled to Boston, MA to highlight provisions in the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) passed in August. The U.S. Department of Energy also announced funds available to states and Tribes as part of the IRA for consumer home energy rebate programs. These funds will be used to switch customers only to electric appliances, including electric heat pumps. AGA is concerned that by ignoring a broad portfolio of options, including natural gas heat pumps and other efficient gas appliances, the Administration is missing a valuable opportunity to make home heating more affordable for the greatest number of households.
“These policies ignore the cost and emissions savings that would be achieved through a portfolio approach that includes efficient gas end-use applications,” Harbert said.
According to the Energy Information Administration, families using natural gas for heat this winter can expect to pay $931. The average American home using electricity for heat will pay $1,359 this winter – 31 percent more. Homes heating with natural gas this winter could save between 12% and 62% compared to electrical alternatives, according to AGA’s Winter Outlook held October 17.
Heat pump performance degrades as the outdoor temperature drops. To heat a home this winter, using an energy star high-efficiency condensing gas furnace could cost $766 compared to $869 with a cold climate heat pump or $1,067 if a home installs a standard energy star heat pump. In the past decade, families have signed up for natural gas space heating, rather than electric heat pumps, at a ratio of four to one.
AGA strongly supports the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). The $4.5 billion in LIHEAP funding announced by Vice President Harris is an annual allocation ahead of the heating season. As part of this annual allocation plan, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will allocate the remaining $400 million in the Spring for a total of $4.9 Billion.