The Higher Cost of Summer

The Higher Cost of Summer

It’s a brutally hot summer here in the DC area. Many days with temperatures well into the 90s with high humidity means heat indexes making it feel like 100° or higher, heat advisories, and warnings about unhealthy conditions. And it’s only July; August is traditionally hotter.

The Heat of Summer and Health

Air conditioning in the summer is a necessity. Life without A/C means brutally hot days and nights that feel airless. It’s unhealthy and can be a health hazard for children, the elderly, house pets, and just about anyone with chronic ailments, especially anyone suffering from respiratory problems including allergies. It can make it hard to sleep at night, and insufficient sleep lowers resistance and may affect everyday activities. Summer rains can require windows to be closed making it even hotter and more stagnant indoors.

Fans blow hot air offering the promise of relief, but in some ways may make it worse for those already compromised. Heat stroke, summer colds, and even flu-like symptoms that include fever are real. So life without A/C in this part of the world is almost unthinkable. Thank goodness for air conditioners!

The Increased Cost of Summer

We depend on air conditioning. It’s hardly a luxury. But of course, there is a cost. In addition to the cost of acquiring and maintaining air conditioners, there is more electricity usage and thus higher utility costs.

Did you know it takes more electricity to cool the average home than it does to operate any other appliance or accessory? On an hourly basis it costs more to run the A/C than the cost of keeping the lights on, running the refrigerator, using the stove, watching television, and using your computer combined! But you knew that just from the higher price of your electric bills during the summer.

The Cost of Summer for Those with Less

For those of us fortunate enough to have the income and resources to absorb the increased cost in utilities, the higher summer expense may be little more than a budgetary adjustment. To those living paycheck-to-paycheck that increase can mean a utility shutoff at the worst possible time. It can also mean having to make difficult choices between food, medicine, and keeping the electricity on.

Avoiding Utility Cut-offs

When utilities are cut off for late, partial, or non-payment there is an added cost. It’s a cruel irony that when those barely getting by get their utilities shut off, it costs them even more money to get them turned back on! There are often penalties for late or missed payments and charges to restore services.

You Can Help MUM’s Clients Avoid Utility Cut-offs.

Preventing utility cut-offs is the only real solution. MUM helps those who need help keeping their utilities on in a couple ways:

  1. Working with Utility Companies – If we know that a utility cut-off is a possibility, MUM can work with the utility company to try and negotiate a way to avoid the cut-off. When the utility company has already cut off service MUM can still try to work with them to make it less expensive and easier to get the service restored, but it is better to work with companies before this disruption to service occurs.
  2. Utility Payment Assistance – MUM provides utility payment assistance to our clients who qualify. Note that financial assistance, for any service, is limited to once every 12 months and three times in a lifetime. It is not an ongoing payment. Read about how MUM can help with utilities, here. Many of us have experienced times when higher than expected expenses for everyday necessities—housing costs, utilities, medical expenses, food, and gas/transportation costs—caused financial challenges. For those lacking a financial cushion or reserve it can be profoundly difficult.

When you give to MUM, this is how your generous contribution is used. It goes to help those in the direst circumstances for that one time when life’s challenges are just too much. Won’t you help your neighbors who need a helping hand to pay the higher cost of utilities this summer? Your donation to MUM contributes to the wellbeing of the community. What for many of us is a modest amount can be the difference between health and sickness, which can be the difference between going to work and keeping a job, taking care of families, remaining in their homes, and being productive members of the neighborhood and community or losing everything. So you see, your contribution goes directly to helping someone pay their utility bill, but like the ripples from a pebble in a pond, your conscious generosity and compassionate concern for others goes well beyond. Thank you for caring and helping MUM help those with less!

About Steven J. Caplan

Steven J. Caplan is a freelance writer in the Washington, DC area.