Winter is a wonderful time for reflection, coziness, and celebrations. But it can also be filled with unexpected costs. Icy roads cause car accidents or breakdowns, holiday gifts add up, loved ones get sick—and you get the bill. Read on to learn more about high winter bills and how you can find help when you need it.
My bill wasn’t this high last year. What changed?
The main culprit for a spike in winter bills is often heat. A lot of the time, heating costs increase for reasons you can’t fully control. An unusually cold winter can cause you to use more heat than you expected to, and the cost of heating materials themselves can push bills higher.
Winter storms are another common cause of high winter bills, due to their cold temperatures and the damage to buildings that wind and snow can cause. If the building you live or work in has poor ventilation, you may find yourself battling colds more often, leading to higher medical costs.
I don’t think I can pay all my bills on time. What do I do?
Many communities offer resources to people who need help paying bills or accessing important necessities. However, these resources can be hard to find.
That’s where Community Health Plan of Washington (CHPW) and our community resource hub come in. We teamed up with Aunt Bertha, a nonprofit that helps connect people to needed services, to create one portal you can use anytime you need some extra help.
Using CHPW’S Community Resource Hub
1- Enter your zip code into our portal.
We chose a zip code in Spokane, but you can enter your own zip code or a family member’s.
You can view your results in any language you need. Click “Select Language” to see the full range of choices.
2- Pick the kind of help you need from the icons in the top bar.
In this case, we wanted help paying for utility bills, so we started in the Housing icon and picked “Help Pay for Housing” > “help pay for utilities.”
3- You can also filter your search so you only see services tailored to you.
These are some of the winter assistance programs and organizations we turned up using CHPW’s resource hub. The resources in your community may be different—enter your zip code and see who you find!
Help Paying for Utilities
Emergency Car Repairs
- Volunteers of America Eastern Washington and Northern Idaho (Temporary/emergency shelter.)
- Spokane Neighborhood Action Partners’ (SNAP) Weatherization Program (Help protecting your home from extreme weather.)
Household Goods & Clothing
- Serve Spokane Clothing Ministry (Clothing bank, including baby clothes and household goods.)
- YWCA Clothing Closet (Clothing for women in transition, such as going back to school or to job interviews.)
If you’re dealing with high winter bills, remember:
- Reach out. If you’re having trouble paying a bill, don’t be afraid to ask for help.
- Handle one thing at a time. No one can solve all their problems in a day. Find time in your schedule for one task (like a single application) and get it done before you worry about the next thing.
- Be kind to yourself. Whether you need assistance for a one-off expense, during a period of change, or more regularly, your needs are valid and you deserve support.