Over 41% of Alabama households reduced basic expenses such as medicine or food to afford energy costs in the last 12 months, according to a recent LendingTree survey.

The national average was almost 34%, according to the survey.

According to LendingTree, Southerners are most likely to reduce or skip basic expenses to afford their energy bills. Alabama had the fifth-highest percentage of households in the South that have reduced basic expenses to afford rising energy costs.

While the summer heat plays a role, LendingTree chief credit analyst Matt Schulz said it's not the only factor.

"There's no question that income plays a big role, too," Schulz said in a statement. "Mississippi and West Virginia are among the lowest-income states in the country, which means less financial margin for error for people who live there. Inflation has shrunk that already-razor-thin margin for error to zero for many people. When that happens, payments get missed and expenses get slashed."

The Alabama Public Service Commission approved three rate increase requests by Alabama Power Company in 2022. The last request was approved last week and is set to begin next month.

On the other end of the list, 20.3% of households in the District of Columbia say they reduced or skipped expenses to pay their energy bill — the lowest of any state. D.C. is followed by Vermont (24.4%) and Delaware (24.6%). 

Households in the District of Columbia and Delaware have income levels above the U.S. median, while the median in Vermont is just below. The three states have moderate summer temperatures, according to the survey.

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