We are coming off of a record-breaking summer for heat across the country.
Cooling costs are increasing, and millions of people are not getting the help they need to pay their bills.
The latest federal data shows nearly 30 million people nationwide struggle to pay their energy bills and qualify for help.
But less than 3 percent get that help for their summer energy bills.
That’s compared to food stamps which reach 80 percent of the people who are eligible.
And it's leading to some tough decisions.
“Paying an energy bill in order to keep their lights on, keep their air conditioning or their heating going as opposed to buying nutritious food or paying for medicine,” said Michelle Graff with Cleveland State University.
Graff has been studying the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program.
She's encouraged by the investments the federal government has made into the program recently with COVID stimulus money.
But she says more money is needed.
“I really hope that the fact that decision makers are recognizing energy and security as its own very real and difficult, prevalent, widespread problem will lead to a proportional response leading to assistance dollars and funding mechanisms and administration opportunities and expansion to match demand,” said Graff.
The demand is only growing with climate change.
National nonprofits are helping to fill in the funding gaps in some cases.
The Salvation Army and Catholic Charities give out emergency financial aid, so it's worth contacting them if you aren't getting the help you need from the government.