Low income families can receive free air conditioners from government assistance programs or local charities. The availability of this service will depend on the funding levels or what has been donated when it comes to applying for help to a charity organization. However it is usually possible to receive either a free air conditioner unit or maybe a window fan.
There are several places to turn to for applications or more information. The first will be a local community action agency, which process applications for LIHEAP in most states. This is the primary United State Department of Energy (DOE) program which pays for the free air conditioner programs. It will not only provide a new one to households that qualify, but it may even help repair an existing AC unit.
Whether it is available in a certain community or not will depend on the rules and regulations for that particular state. It will also depend on how much money has been allocated to LIHEAP doe the fiscal year, and this amount is set by Congress each year. While the terms may change over time, currently about 35 states offer free air conditioning systems to very low income families. They even include some of the warmest and largest states, such as Texas, Virginia, Georgia, North Carolina, and Florida among others.
LIHEAP may not only give the family (in particular senior citizen or homes with small children) an air conditioner, it can also help repair a broken one. In fact, if the home already has a unit that is not working, most states will require it to be fixed first. Only after that has been attempted will a new AC unit be given.
Salvation Army thrift stores may also distribute a free window mounted air conditioner. Normally, these will be sold at a reduced price in the community. They will also be gently used systems as they are coming from a thrift store. However a local Salvation Army center may make exceptions in some cases. This will vary by locations.
Some of the centers may provide them for free when there is a medical emergency. Therefore a Salvation Army Family Service center may give a window type air conditioner to a senior citizen or elderly member of the community. Or a single mother with a sick child at home may qualify. They are often the most at risk during the warm summer months. There are even instances most years of low income elderly or young people passing away due to overheating during a summer heat wave.
A air conditioner unit can help eliminate that risk. Note these will normally be small units that can be mounted in a bedroom window or another defined portion of the home. By no means which every local thrift store or center have them. Some may just have fans, but usually some for of assistance is available. But they can be an option, and find help from Salvation Army.
Even after receiving an air conditioner or fan, many low income families need help paying the electric bills to keep it running during the summer. It does not help anyone if they have a system to keep their home or apartment cool but then just get a disconnection notice from their power company. So when applying to the community action agency (or other charity such as the Salvation Army) also inquire into financial aid at the same time.
There are also some state wide resources that help families with an income near poverty levels pay their cooling bills. One of them is LIHEAP, and this is noted above. But there are several other agencies that focus on meeting this demand. Everyone from the disabled to low income families may be given a grant. Locate cooling and air conditioning bill assistance programs.
Most states also have regulations that protect the vulnerable from having their electricity shut off during a heat wave. Oftentimes if the temperature in the states goes above a certain number of degrees, the utility company can't turn off the electric service for someone that is sick, disabled, or above a certain age limit. This will allow the household to keep their power on so they can continue to run their air conditioner. There are numerous laws to prevent utility disconnections from taking place during the year.
Other charities as well as churches also operate summer cooling programs. Some offer financial aid, some loan out window fans to low income seniors or the sick, others may pass out air conditioners. In almost all cases what is provided is done at no cost to the applicant. Or they may have grants available that can be used to repair AC units. However some of the charities may ask for small donations to help offset the program costs.
The application period for any summer assistance programs will usually start in May and run through June or July. However when it comes to a free air conditioner, those are always in short supply and given on a first come and served basis. Anyone in need of staying cool or that is facing an emergency or health risk needs to apply early. Find a listing of these charities that help with paying bills.
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