Heat waves continue to grip the country, with record temperatures and droughts ravaging much of the United States. Last week in the Central Valley region of California, temperatures topped the 105 degree mark, leaving people scrambling for ways to stay cool. While many will turn to the air conditioner when the home gets uncomfortable, many seniors are hesitant to lower the thermostat for fear of raising energy bills to unaffordable levels, and thus place themselves in a high risk situation for heat related illness, such as heat exhaustion or heat stroke.
Take, for example, Ernie and Myrna. Both in their late 80’s, the couple relies on cool mornings and fans throughout the house to keep them cool throughout the summer. However, with nights not cooling off, the pair has been left to suffer through sleepless, hot nights and nearly unbearable days. Their daughter in concerned about their wellbeing during this sweltering heat, and is desperate for ways to convince her parents that their wellbeing and comfort is more important than an increased utility bill.
Seniors concerned about protecting their pocketbooks in the midst of summer can be a dangerous combination. However, there are some low-cost options to help keep seniors cool without breaking the bank by cranking that A/C.
1. Cooling the home with outside air:
When nights and mornings are cooler than daytime temperatures, seniors and their caregivers can take advantage of this comfortable, cool air by opening doors and windows (if safe to do so), and placing fans near windows to help pull in and circulate this cool air. A task in homecare software or a homecare system can help in-home caregivers remember to air out the home for seniors in cooler hours and take advantage of this low-cost cooling while it lasts.
2. Single-Room Air Conditioners:
For seniors concerned with the cost of running central air conditioning, single-room a/c units can help keep main living spaces, or a bedroom cool without having the cost of cooling areas of the home that aren’t frequented. Homecare software or a homecare system, like ClearCare, can help in-home caregivers track use of these units to ensure seniors homes are kept at a safe and comfortable temperature.
3. Weather-Appropriate Clothing:
Many seniors wear the same thing year-round. Take Ernie, for example, who rarely wears anything but his uniform of slacks, knee-high socks, a long-sleeved button-up shirt and vest. And in 108-degree weather, that’s hot outfit! In-home and family caregivers can help keep seniors cool by encouraging them to wear short-sleeved, or short-pants attire during the hot months. Homecare software or a robust home care software can also help in-home caregivers by allowing them to note whether or not seniors are open to the idea of more comfortable clothing for the weather.
4. Low-Cost Energy Programs:
Many utility providers offer a low-cost energy program for seniors and low-income families on a fixed income. These kinds of programs can provide reduced energy costs, while allowing seniors to feel that turning on that air conditioner is a manageable expense. Check with your local utility provider for available programs, like this one from Pacific Gas & Electric in California, called “CARE.” http://www.pge.com/en/myhome/customerservice/financialassistance/care/index.page
5. Turn Off Unnecessary Lights & Appliances:
Extra lighting and use of appliances can add to the heat in a home. Tasks in a homecare software or homecare system can help in-home caregivers remember to keep electricity and use of appliances like the oven or stove to a minimum, which can help keep a home much cooler!
Do you have low-cost suggestions for keeping a home cool? Leave your comments below and let us know!
All individuals mentioned in this blog are fictional.