Plan to pay more for power bills, if you aren’t already

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics recently released a report saying the average electricity price went up almost 16% from last August to this one.

What’s that in dollars and cents?

The National Energy Assistance Directors Association sent federal lawmakers a letter this month. It says the average family’s A/C costs went from about $450 last summer to about $550 this year.

In another document, the NEADA said one out of six families is behind on utility bills, that the average one owed about $400 a few years ago, but almost double that now ($792).

And, remember, businesses have to spend more on energy too. So, assuming they pass that along to consumers, that hits you in the wallet as well.

Plus analysts say about 40% of electricity in the U.S. depends on natural gas which has shot up in price too.

Charlotte residents Ericka Keiger and Lauren Andrews say they deal with it by working more hours.

“Work a lot of overtime,” Keiger said. “Oh yeah, we do … like 55/60 hours a week.”

“I just tighten up my belt,” Charlotte resident Linda Baldwin told Action 9′s Jason Stoogenke. She says her electricity bill was more than $300 this month -- and had been around $400 recently -- and that she lives alone in a home smaller than 1,000 square feet.

Duke Energy offers a program to make your home more energy efficient. The Home Energy House Call is a free in-home assessment. An energy specialist will check your house and appliances for leaks and give you pointers on how to make your home more energy efficient.

If you are a Duke customer and need assistance paying your bills, click here.

(WATCH BELOW: Business owner pays past-due utilities of over 100 families)