WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — As temperatures drop, Americans could see a dramatic rise in heating prices.

“No parent or senior should be forced to choose between keeping food on the table and keeping the heat on,” Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) said.

Gillibrand says higher heating costs will increase the financial burden those in her state are already experiencing because of the pandemic.

“Nationwide, utility debt grew from 12 billion dollars to an estimated 32 billion dollars,” Gillibrand said.

The U.S Energy Information Administration reports that with higher energy prices, and a colder seasonal forecast, households could see heating bills jump as much as 54% from last winter. To help, Gillibrand is calling on the Department of Health and Human Services to quickly distribute the assistance funding already approved in the pandemic relief packages.

“That’s why I’ve just written to the HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra, to ask that the department release this year’s LIHEAP funds at the highest level possible as quickly as possible,” Gillibrand added.

“It’s a necessity and it is going to be more expensive,” Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) said.

Capito blames the increase on inflation she says was caused by the Biden Administration and says it will hurt those living on a fixed income.

“If you’re heating bill goes up 50 to 100 to 150 dollars and even more a month, that cuts into your ability to buy food or to travel,” Capito said.

Both Capito and Gillibrand agree, the sooner this relief funding goes out, the less financial strain Americans will face.