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Home Energy Costs

The New Threat to Independent Living for the Nation's Low-Income Elderly

By John Howat & Philene Taormina

Increased accessibility of home and community-based long-term care and related government funding make independent living more possible for many older Americans. High household energy prices and expenditures, however, threaten home energy security of low-income elderly people who seek to age safely in their own homes. Consumer protections that reduce arrearage rates and the shutoff of services may enhance the effectiveness of the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program and other energy programs. Various policies, such as the a “affordable energy bargain”—a model program offering long-term affordability and arrearage management options—would protect vulnerable elderly customers from the life-threatening loss of service.

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