Air Conditioning Essential As Heat-related Illnesses Rise

Air Conditioning Essential As Heat-related Illnesses Rise

Climate change isn’t doing our infrastructure any favors as heat waves melt roofs, roadways and airport runways, burst water mains, kink railway ties and crack bridge supports.

The heat also is making us sick.

More than 700 people in the U.S. die each year of preventable heat-related illness, according to the Centers of Disease Control.

Not only are people – especially those who are most vulnerable, including children, the elderly, those with circulatory or pulmonary disorders and those without housing – being impacted with heat-related illnesses, more of us are simply getting sicker.

Doctors have seen a correlation between longer heat waves and intensifying heat-related illness, partially attributing the more serious illnesses to warmer nights that don’t allow the temperature to drop to a healthier level. They also reported seeing more heat-related illness not associated with typical causes like working, exercising or spending more time in the sun.

There is little done at a community level to address these concerns. Municipalities may open cooling centers, but they may be limited in scope, size or duration. Some public officials are encouraging their residents to go to shopping malls or other air conditioned public venues to avoid the heat.

There’s good reason officials urge residents to go to public spaces equipped with air conditioning. Heat-related deaths dropped by 80 percent between 1960 and 2004 as the number of homes with home air conditioning increased to 85 percent, according to a study conducted by Tulane and Carnegie Mellon universities and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Air conditioning can be a literal lifesaver.

In a study, it was found that among those self-reporting heat-related illnesses, one-third did not have working air conditioning, with those without air conditioning almost four times more likely to have experienced symptoms of heat exhaustion. The study also found that low-income households were more than three times as likely to not have working air conditioning.

Carol R. of Mason, Ill., would have fallen through the cracks if it hadn’t been for her energy co-operative, Southwestern Electric Cooperative.

She and her husband were older adults with a fixed income, and her husband suffered from a chronic pulmonary health problem. Additionally, they were often caretakers for their young grandchildren.

Her heat pump failed at the very beginning of the summer and she was without air conditioning. The estimated cost to repair the heat pump was more than $3,100, and the unit was less than a decade old. The cost to fix the heat pump represented a significant portion of their annual income.

“I was searching to find the money to replace it on Social Security,” she said.

Carol was doing more strenuous chores around the house early in the morning to beat the heat, but she knew that, for the sake of her husband and grandchildren, she needed to get the heat pump fixed.

“I don’t have any air,” she said. “Outside, it’s 95 degrees, and it’s 83 degrees in the house, and I’ve got six fans running – four in the living room, one in the kitchen, one in the bedroom, and we’ve got a dehumidifier running so we’re not dying.”

So, she reached out to Southwestern to find out if there was anything the co-op could do to assist, and the utility had an answer for her.

“They reached out and said, ‘we have this partner, HomeServe,’ she said.

HomeServe is a leading provider of emergency home repair plans, and, as part of our partnerships with utility providers, the HomeServe Cares Foundation provides pro-bono emergency repairs for qualifying homeowners. Southwestern helped make a connection between Carol and the Foundation, and the Foundation agreed to take on the repair for Carol.

“Oh my gosh, it was just intense, intense relief,” she said.

To learn how HomeServe can help you protect your most vulnerable members, contact us.

Central Air Conditioning Repair a Blessing to Jackson Homeowner

Central Air Conditioning Repair a Blessing to Jackson Homeowner

As a life-long resident of Jackson, Mississippi, Alfred D. is no stranger to the city’s hot summers.

For many years, he had a home air conditioning system to keep the humidity and high temperatures at bay. However, the retiree’s air conditioning system finally, after more than 20 years, gave up the ghost. He didn’t have the more than $7,000 needed for an air conditioning repair and repairs to ductwork beneath his home.

Alfred isn’t alone, because, according to HomeServe USA’s Biannual State of the Home Survey Summer 2018 edition approximately 20 percent of homeowners had an emergency HVAC repair in the last year, and 22 percent don’t have any funds set aside for such a repair, while 65 percent of those with an income of $50,000 or less had less than $500 set aside. The survey also revealed that one in three air conditioning systems are more than 10 years old – many homeowners are at risk of needing an air conditioning repair in the near future, but don’t have the funds to cover central air repairs.

Alfred set up seven fans throughout his home in an effort to keep cool in the grueling heat, but often had to leave his home and go elsewhere, including public buildings, shopping centers and relatives’ homes. He didn’t consider contacting any HVAC companies, since he couldn’t afford to have central air repairs done. His problems were compounded when he began providing childcare for two grandchildren after school – now, not only was he suffering from the sweltering heat, but so were they, and there seemed to be no relief on the horizon, since he couldn’t afford an air conditioning repair.

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“I was trying to figure out what I was going to do for next summer, but I figured I’d have to go through the same procedure,” Alfred said.

Brothers Tommy and Barry Dent, who operate Dent Air Conditioning Co., one of the area’s top-rated HVAC companies, knew they had to do something. Their father had installed Alfred’s original home air conditioning system back in the 1990s, and he was a long-time client of theirs. They knew that, even if he could afford it, Alfred wouldn’t go to other HVAC companies for his air conditioning repair.

The Dents knew that Alfred needed a new home air conditioning unit, and they knew just who could help make it happen: HomeServe, the national home warranty provider. The Dents nominated Alfred as a candidate for HomeServe Cares, which provides pro-bono repair work to qualifying, low-income homeowners who have an emergency home repair impacting their health and quality of life.

“I told [the Dents], OK, we’ll give it a shot and see what God has in store,” Alfred said.

That happened to be full central air repairs and needed repairs to duct work, all at no cost to Alfred. Dent Air got to work, and soon Alfred and his grandchildren were once again cool and comfortable.

Alfred had just this to say: “Thank you, HomeServe!”

HomeServe operates a network of contractors across the country and award-winning, around-the-clock, call centers in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and Canonsburg, Pennsylvania. To learn more about how you can partner with HomeServe to offer customers peace of mind through affordable home warranties covering HVAC, water heaters, interior electric and electrical service lines and more, contact us. There is no cost to utilities, and the operation is entirely turn-key.