New Yorkers could face huge winter heating bill increase

Many New Yorkers could see their heating bills rise by double-digit percentages this winter, and elected leaders are pushing for federal assistance to help lighten the load.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is calling for $1B to be added to the upcoming budget, in order to help with the costs. 

John Przykuta says he can’t imagine paying much more each month.

"My gas bill is anywhere from $325 to $375," he said. "I keep it at 68 degrees."

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The 63-year-old who is battling pancreatic liver cancer relies on his $846 social security disability check each month to cover expenses from food to fuel, so an expected 29-percent increase in heating bills this winter - according to National Grid - is a tough pill for him to swallow.

John plans to get help this winter by applying for HEAP, a federal Home Energy Assistance Program for working families and seniors like him who might find it difficult to keep up with energy bills.

"There are families already making decisions about whether you put gas in their car, whether to buy food or medication, and this winter whether to pay the bills," said Dr. Jeff Reynolds, President & CEO of Family & Children’s Association.

But the problem, according to Sen. Schumer, is that the fund is set to run out of money. Now, he says he’s doing his part to replenish the federal pot and increase its amount by a billion dollars nationally.

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"New York is particularly affected because we have a large percentage of people that use home heating oil," Schumer said. 

Last year alone, more than 80,000 Long Island households used roughly $20 million in federal home energy assistance and this year, families across Long Island could need even more.

HEAP applications are available in each county. The program that could save eligible recipients hundreds of dollars this winter season is part of the federal budget that must pass by the end of the month in order to keep the government open and funded.