When determining a household’s eligibility, states consider a household’s total shelter costs, including the cost of utilities.
Since actual utility costs are often hard to determine, states can use a Standard Utility Allowances (SUA), which is the average cost of utilities in the state or local area. States annually update SUAs to reflect changes in utility costs. Different states may use different terms to describe these allowances.
In most states, using SUAs is mandatory. In states with optional SUAs, a household can claim actual utility expenses, but must provide documentation for all claimed costs.
SUA’s vary based on household size in Arizona, Guam, Hawaii, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia. ;SUA’s vary based on location in Alaska and New York.