1 in 5 U.S. Households Struggle to Pay Rising Utility Costs. Here’s How Cord Cutting Can Help




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The U.S. has seen historic utility rate hikes nationwide in the past year. A report by HOP Energy found that 48% of households are stressing about the rising cost of utility bills, and one in five struggle to pay bills on time.

HOP Energy surveyed 1,002 people on the difficulty of paying increased electric, gas, and oil utility bills. The report shows that 71% of U.S. households are trying to cut utility costs, and 19% have paid late at least once in 2023. About 12% have had a utility shut off due to nonpayment.

One way to save on your bills is to cut the cable cord and switch over to streaming services and get your broadcast channels over the air via an antenna. A survey by MNTN Research, a streaming insight group, said cord cutters spend an average of $87 a month on streaming services.

That cost, however, reflects the fact that streaming services have also increased prices, prompting many to swap out their ad-free subscriptions for ad-supported tiers to save money. One in four paid premium subscribers are interested in switching to ad-supported plans. MNTN Research’s report projects Disney+’s ad-supported tier will make up 88% of subscriptions by 2028. 

Still, having several paid ad-supported plans can add up, which is where free ad-supported options become appealing. Free platforms like Tubi and Pluto TV are on the rise and, in the U.S., are projected to rake in $18 billion in revenue by 2028. A study from eMarketer predicts more than 158.5 million U.S. viewers will stream ad-supported content in the same year. Between over-the-air TV and free, ad-supported streaming services you can save a lot on your entertainment bills.

There are other ways to save on energy costs. About 52% of HOP Energy’s participants said they were unplugging items to save money. Even if an item seems like it’s not using power, it can add to your electric bill without you realizing it. Called “phantom load” or “vampire power,” devices like smart TVs and other electronics that may have a small light on when plugged in can add up when you get your monthly bill. Even smart chargers can pull energy when not in use. 

The U.S. Department of Energy estimates unplugging devices can save the average household up to $100 a year.

While streaming services have gotten more expensive, they’re not the only ones. Of all utility bills, 69% reported electric bills saw the biggest hike in price. HOP Energy’s report found that the average electric bill is $180 a month. Nearly 3 in 5 households reported adjusting their thermostat closer to the outdoor temperature to cut costs. But this winter, with massive snow storms and adverse weather conditions, this is not an option for many.

Installing energy-efficient light bulbs, using a smart thermometer, and taking shorter and colder showers can all help reduce an electric bill. Another, more subtle way to decrease usage is to unplug any electronics when not in use, from your coffee machine to your smart TV and even chargers not in use. 

If you need assistance to pay your energy bill, contact your local Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) and apply to the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) for help prepping your home for winter.

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