Food prices are soaring. So are gas prices. Up next, as Americans prepare for the summer? The cost of air conditioning.
Electricity prices are up 12% in the past year amid rising inflation, according to May’s Consumer Price Index report and first reported by the Wall Street Journal. The year-to-year increase translates to an average $540 in electric bills for American households during the summer months, $90 more per month compared to last year, according to data from the National Energy Assistance Directors Association (NEADA), which advises policymakers on low-income utility assistance programs.
Rising air-conditioning costs are just one of many household necessities that are increasingly impacted by inflation and continuing to put financial pressure on American households. Earlier this week, the average price of gas nationwide topped $5 for the first time.
In March, a survey from research firm HelpAdvisor found that 24% of Americans reduced or forwent basic expenses such as food and medicine so they could pay their energy bill over the last 12 months.
One in six respondents to HelpAdvisor’s survey said they have been unable to pay the full amount of their energy bill at least once in the past year.
The rising cost of air conditioning is tied in part to the surging price of natural gas, which has risen steadily as a result of inflation and the war in Ukraine. Natural gas is instrumental in generating roughly 40% of the energy used to cool America’s homes, according to data from the NEADA.
And in many parts of the country, the summer months have a high chance of above-normal temperatures, according to forecasts from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and reported by WSJ.
This week, the U.S. is in the midst of a record-setting heat wave that started out West and is quickly moving east.
On Monday, more than 100 million Americans were living in areas placed under heat advisories or excessive heat watches. That includes the entirety of Arkansas, Mississippi, Kentucky, Missouri, Iowa, Illinois, and Indiana as well as parts of more than a dozen other states, according to the Washington Post.
The intense heat expected this summer will mean more Americans will be relying on their ability to keep their air conditioning going. According to the National Weather Service, excessive heat is one of the leading causes of weather-related deaths.
And with energy costs now steadily rising at the same time food and gas prices are at record highs, the number of Americans struggling to pay to cool their homes could grow.
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