The high cost of heating our homes this winter likely forced thousands of Iowans to skip meals, to miss buying prescription drugs and to be late in paying their bills. The results of a survey done a year ago found the winter of 1999-2000 caused many troubles, and this winter has been even worse.Marilyn Bode, an extension specialist at Iowa State University, says this winter has been much colder and natural gas bills have been several times higher than a year ago. Bode says the survey documented the impact of last winter on four thousand low-income Iowa households. Respondents spent an average of 19-percent of their income on winter heating bills last year, nearly twice the accepted ceiling of ten-percent. In addition to skipping or delaying the payment of bills or borrowing money to pay them, Bode says many thousands of Iowans struggled in other ways. Some sacrificed medical care and food. More than 12-percent of respondents went without food to pay their heating bills while ten-percent weren’t able to make their rent or house payments. Nearly half of them kept their thermostats set below 65-degrees. More than one in five said they went without medical care or prescription drugs.
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