Residents reacting from sticker shock as home heating bills continue to rise

Western Mass News is getting answers on the increase and what customers can do to ease the pain on their wallets.
Published: Jan. 30, 2023 at 4:21 PM EST|Updated: Jan. 30, 2023 at 6:31 PM EST
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SOUTHWICK, Mass. (WGGB/WSHM) - Many people are starting to get their home heating bills for January and are concerned about how much their costs have gone up.

Western Mass News is getting answers on the increase and what customers can do to ease the pain on their wallets.

Western Mass. residents shared their sticker shock on social media. Several users said that their monthly energy expenses have gone up to almost $1,000.

Southwick resident Joe Libirti told Western Mass News that last year, his monthly bill was in the $400 range, but this winter, his Eversource bill has gone up to over $800.

“Kind of put me on an alarm,” he said. “I mean, I’m a small business owner. I never raise my prices when there are any pandemics or anything like that, so for them to do something like this, to go up to that extent, it kind of hurts me.”

With the mild winter temperatures we have experienced here this season, Libirti fears that it is only going to get more expensive as the weather continues to get colder.

“That’s what worries me, if we get a normal winter,” he told us. “All of a sudden, I’m heating my house with a pellet stove, which is pretty much what I use. If I don’t have to use, you know, like normal oil like we have with the cost of oil in electricity and everything, I’m sure my bill would be over $1,000.”

After speaking with homeowners affected by this rise in energy costs, Western Mass News decided to get answers on what resources are available to those struggling to heat their homes this winter.

Eversource Spokesperson Priscilla Ress explained to Western Mass News that a number of factors have driven up the price of energy.

“I mean globally, we are seeing costs going up, whether it be because of war in Ukraine, be it because of natural gas – we rely on natural gas and the cost of natural gas has significantly increased,” Ress explained. “So, bottom line is, we don’t see anything changing in the near future.”

She said that although the cost of energy is unpredictable, there are some habits we can control such as practicing energy efficiency and monitoring your usage.

“There are things like an energy calculator that’s on her website, where you can actually put in water using and sort of get feedback of your own usage and what could be driving your bills up and also ways to lower level,” Ress said.

She also told us that there are several relief programs Eversource customers can look into to help offset the cost.

“We have customer care representatives that can walk you through the programs, tell you what’s available, if there are payment programs, energy efficiency programs, at the good neighbor energy fund that you could qualify for,” Ress told us. “If you don’t qualify for other programs, these are ways that we will get through this.”

However, Liberti told Western Mass News that he looked into these programs, and unfortunately, does not qualify for this type of help.

“You have to be on MassHealth,” he said. “You had to be basically like low income.”

Ress has this advice for those experiencing a similar situation:

“Go onto the website. Look for some of the do-it-yourself tips. You know, one of the things you may want to do is just go around your home and feel where you may feel that cold air coming in. If your windows are leaking, maybe put a rug down on the floor, maybe coming up from the basement. It’s as simple as looking and saying that I switch my lights over to LED. Those are ways you can significantly lower your bill.”

With the cold snap expected this weekend, Ress advised customers to start thinking of ways they can cut down on usage and keep the heat contained inside their home, including putting up heavy drapes, putting down a rug to seal doors, and closing off rooms that aren’t used.