What do you give up to keep your home warm in the winter? For many poor Americans, the answer is fresh food for their kids, or vital medications.
Here’s the good news. Programs exist to help low-income families afford to heat and cool their homes. The federal program allocated almost $3.4 billion in 2015 to states to distribute to low-income households. Other state and local organizations help out too.
And here’s the bad news. These programs do not reach everyone who needs help. For instance, the nonprofit Energy Outreach Colorado estimates that in Colorado, around 450,000 households would qualify for help. But in 2013, fewer than 100,000 received aid from federal funds.
Inside Energy is putting these energy assistance programs under the microscope. Who’s getting left out? How effective are energy assistance programs at meeting the needs of local communities?
Here’s where we want your help. We think our questions are a good start. Yet, there are more threads to this story that we could pick up. How might new laws like the Clean Power Plan affect energy assistance? What’s the role of renewables in energy poverty?
It’s up to you: where should we go next with this story? What more do you want to know about the programs designed to help the poor stay warm and keep cool?
Submit your question below. We’ll select a few of the best questions we receive and ask you to vote on which one we should answer as we report.