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Programs help keep low income families cool during Utah's latest heat wave

Posted at 5:56 PM, Sep 06, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-06 19:56:24-04

SALT LAKE CITY — Many Utahns are looking for help to keep their homes cool as the Beehive State continues to deal with triple digit temperatures.

WATCH: Extreme heat in Utah causing fish to die in Utah's reservoirs, ponds

Jackie Drury is a single mother of two who lives in the Glendale neighborhood.

"Swamp coolers are great for the dry heat, but they don't work very well when it is really hot outside," said Drury.

She says once the temperature reaches about 90 degrees outside, her swamp cooler is less effective.

"I'm lucky if I get it down under 80," said Drury.

Drury says being a single parent living paycheck to paycheck isn't easy when the heat outside bumps up the cost to keep her house cool.

"Those bills just get really high when you're trying to make decisions about, for example, having to pay your mortgage or rent," said Drury.

She and others are taking advantage of the utility assistance programs offered by the non-profit Utah Community Action group.

"In the summertime, depending on what kind of cooling system they're using, it can range anywhere from an added $100-250 in a household," said Angela Vega, the Weatherization Program Manager for the organization.

Vega says the group offers the Home Energy Assistance Target (HEAT) Program which federally funded through the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP).

"Our HEAT program helps them pay for their utility expenses which, you know, a lot of times as a majority of the income that they have in the household," said Vega.

To be eligible to utilize the program, residents must have a total household income at or below 150% of the federal poverty level. Vega says that goes up to 2005 if clients take part in their weatherization program.

"All of our materials can do a full crisis or weatherization job; we have everything from furnace equipment and air conditioning units," said Vega.

Salt Lake, Davis, Tooele, Weber and Morgan counties are served by the program, but if a resident is outside their service area, they are willing to link them with partnering agencies that run other areas of the state.

In all, Utah Community Action has had about 120 crisis calls in the past six months; some of those dealing with people who were having trouble with their air conditioning.

"Heatstroke is a very serious illness that people can experience, especially in these high temperatures and without adequate cooling in the house," said Vega.

As for those like Drury, she says she is excited to see her bills drop with the help of these utility assistance programs.

"They estimate my bill will go down about 30 to 35%."

CLICK HERE for more information on both the HEAT and weatherization programs.