I love air conditioning in the summer. I’m able to get a proper night’s sleep thanks to my window unit and I wouldn’t be able to focus on my job for very long if the office was sweltering. Air conditioning affects many aspects of my life but I don’t think about it too often until I have to go without. I lived in a small, fairly rundown apartment without any AC when I was going through college and even with a box fan it was so miserable I wished I could sleep in the college classrooms. No home should be so uncomfortable that you would rather be in school.
So, 2012 was reported as the hottest year in the history of the United States and many experts believe 2013 will be comparable. I have the heat licked, but what about people who don’t have the luxury of air conditioning in the summer? I actually hesitate to use the word luxury when I talk about this. Dealing with summer heat can be pretty serious, especially for the more vulnerable people in our communities: the young, the elderly, and the sick. Healthy adults are also at risk of heat-related injuries that can incapacitate or even kill from prolonged exposure. I argue it is a necessity to be able to cool off in the summer.
What if You Can’t Afford AC?
For some families, an AC unit or an HVAC unit is just out of the question. There are too many other important expenses to be handled first such as food, utility bills, and childcare to name a few. Electric fans are a solution and they can make an incredible difference in a well insulated home. But what if the home is poorly insulated?
People often think of insulation only making an impact in the winter months but that same insulation that keeps cold air out also keeps it in. A well-insulated home that circulates cool air will provide better heat protection than a drafty, poorly insulated home. Poor insulation also costs homeowners more in the summer as more energy is needed to cool the home, despite if you have a fan or AC unit.
Weatherization is an option available to many but the worst off homes. Simply installing more insulation in the ceilings and walls isn’t enough. Weatherization can also take the form of caulk sealing cracks, placing weather stripping around doorways and windows, or even installing heavier curtains or window blinds to keep the heat of the sun out. These same measures also serve double duty in keeping the heat in during the winter months.
What if You Can’t Afford Weatherization?
The good news is that there are weatherization assistance programs available for households that meet the requirements. Fahe and some Member organizations help to provide this to families in Appalachia. Weatherization helps to cool homes, reduce utility bills and improve the overall living conditions. With possibly one of the hottest summers in the U.S. coming up quickly, making these improvements on a home is more important than ever and can even safe a life.
If you or someone you know is an Appalachian homeowner in need of weatherization assistance, we may be able to help you. For Fahe Members in your area, you can contact our Membership Coordinator, Jackie Weiss, via email or you can check our online Membership Directory by state.