Seniors, shelters brace for colder temperatures & higher bills

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) – Turning the heat on may be expensive, but it’s also often a necessity. As our nights keep getting cooler, WITN talked to some people in Greenville who have had to find ways to work around the higher prices.

“Sometimes it can be kind of overwhelming,” Greenville resident Shirley Rodgers said.

Keeping up with the bills at any time can certainly be described that way, and for Rodgers, like many others, there’s a level of dread when she thinks about it all.

“I do have a mortgage I have to pay, plus the light bill, and phone bill,” she explained.

On top of that—just like summer makes the AC bill higher—winter will do the same for heating bills. It’s no secret that wearing some thick socks and curling up by the fire is how some plan to keep their bills manageable.

“I’ll do okay if I have to wrap up in a blanket,” Rodgers said, smiling.

Still, it’s not ideal. In fact, for someone like Mary Moore of Winterville, who has asthma and COPD, changes in the air have a big impact. Even so, she’s had to make sacrifices.

“We had to turn it almost off so we could pay the light bill,” Moore explained.

It’s a problem for many people.

“For many of our seniors that already have blood-related thinning issues, they get cold really quick, so they tend to turn the heat up a bit more, but then they can’t afford the heat,” Pitt County Council on Aging Executive Director Rich Zeck explained.

While inflation seems to be easing, prices over the past year have made costs for everyone go up, which hits shelters like the Crossroads Community Center in Greenville particularly hard.

“Utility bills went up, supply costs went up, everything went up this year,” Charles Young, the executive director said. However, he says they manage the costs by asking for donations.

The Community Crossroads Center has seen a 10% cost increase over the past year. That equals out to about $60,000.

The shelter is an asset to the community though, as it opens any time the temperature is 32 degrees or below.

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