FBN Exclusive: Nearly 1 in 4 Americans compromise on food, medicine to pay energy bill

1 in 4 Americans compromise on food, medicine to pay energy bill

FOX Business’ Lydia Hu reports 9.6 million people couldn’t pay for their home energy bill almost every month in the past year, with ‘no relief in sight.’

As energy prices continue their meteoric rise, many Americans are now left struggling to keep up with the rising costs.

An analysis by Help Advisor of recent U.S. Census Data shared exclusively with the FOX Business Network shows 24% of Americans reduced or forwent basic expenses like food and medication so they could pay an energy bill within the last year. State-by-state analysis shows rates rise to as high as 33.1% in Arkansas and 30.6% in New Mexico for this troubling trend. 

The finding is a particular concern for Americans on fixed incomes. 

"Some of our members are telling us that they’re foregoing certain medical procedures because they don’t have the money for out-of-pocket expenses to get these procedures done. And they’re telling us they’re buying fewer groceries," said Andy Mangione, senior vice president of Association of Mature American Citizens. 

About half of American homes use natural gas for heat, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. The recent Consumer Price Index shows those consumers are paying 23.9% more for natural gas than a year ago.

Prices for natural gas on the NYMEX have increased by about 44% over the last year, while storage of natural gas has slumped, 17.5% lower than a year ago, according to the EIA.

Help Advisor’s analysis also shows 16% of Americans kept their homes at an unsafe temperature to lower their energy bill. And 1 in 6 people say they’ve been unable to pay the full amount of their energy bill at least once in the past year. 

"We’ve seen this happen before," said Mangione. "People are going to have to make some tough choices because of these high costs." 

The national balance for utility accounts in arrears climbed 10% from 2020 reaching $22.3 billion last year, according to the National Energy Assistance Directors’ Association. California and New York lead the country, reporting $1.9 billion and $1.3 billion in arrears, respectively. 

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