WASHINGTON (DC Bureau/KFOR) – Families across Oklahoma and the U.S. may have to shell out hundreds of extra dollars this winter because of higher energy costs.

“We’re in uncharted territory,” said Mark Wolfe with the National Energy Assistance Directors Association. “Prices haven’t been this high in over 15 years. So it’s going to be very very tough for families.”

Wolfe says factors like the war in Ukraine are driving prices up.

That’s why on Wednesday, the Biden Administration announced its adding $4.5 billion to the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP).

LIHEAP assists eligible low-income households with their heating and cooling energy costs, bill payment assistance, energy crisis assistance, weatherization and energy-related home repairs.

“To help support folks with their heating costs as we go into the winter season,” said National Climate Advisor, Ali Zaidi.

The Administration is also giving $9 billion to a new rebate program for energy efficient upgrades.

“If you want to bend energy costs for the long term you have to help people make retrofits, upgrades in their homes,” said Zaidi.

However, some are concerned those steps won’t help everyone who will struggle this winter.

“Energy is just becoming unaffordable in the United States,” said Wolfe. “And these funds are a step in the right direction. But it’s not going to be enough.”

Wolfe says the National Energy Assistance Directors Association is asking Congress to add another $4 billion to the energy assistance program.

He wants to see more people take advantage of the available funding.

“If a family is struggling to pay their home energy bill, they shouldn’t be embarrassed. They should apply for help,” said Wolfe.

Wolfe also says families should make sure they make necessary repairs to keep heat in – and look for ways to use less.

“The more you can reduce the amount you use, the lower your bill will be,” said Wolfe.

To apply for assistance, you can call 1-866-674-6327. Fine more information and eligibility requirements online.