NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — High utility bills are something many families have seen over the past few months. In fact, Americans are paying more than ever to cool their homes.
The high bills are causing families to shell out around $100 more than last year for their utilities. It's coming from the record-breaking heat and soaring inflation.
The higher cost of electricity, gas and water is burdening already struggling families. Records show 20 million Americans are behind on their utility bills. The balance is the highest on record.
Two main factors are causing this: the price of natural gas is up about 500 percent since 2020 and people are trying to find relief from the heat when they can.
Some financial relief could be coming soon from the Inflation Reduction Act. It has $9 billion in energy rebates and additional tax credits to help lower overall utility costs. But as we're now moving into the fall, winter heating bills will soon start up.
"Energy inflation is the leading inflation overall. This is not normal," said Mark Wolfe with National Energy Assistance Directors Association. "We're seeing numbers for middle-income families go higher. And many of those families also are on very tight budgets."
U.S. energy prices went up 1.6 percent in July, marking the third month for an increase greater than one percent.