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Assistance programs make cooling off affordable

Sunday - 7/3/2011, 7:12am  ET

Kathy Stewart,

WASHINGTON -- It's only the beginning of July and we've already had plenty of super hot days. Some can no longer afford to keep their homes cool, which can end up being deadly. Now there's help.

Virginia residents have until Monday, August 15, to drop off cooling assistance applications at a local social services department. Eligible customers can get help paying electric bills, says Andrea Gregg, manager of Virginia's Energy Assistance Program.

"This program is a really critical program for those households who have someone who may be elderly or disabled or a child under the age of six," Gregg says. "We want people to keep their homes at a safe and comfortable temperature."

They can also repair existing heat pumps and cooling systems.

"If you don't have an air-conditioner at home, we may be able to get a window unit for you or a ceiling fan," she says.

She says they've tried to make the application process easy: There's no interview. But customers need to fill out the two-page application and either mail it or drop it off at a local social services department by the August 15 deadline.

Last year, the program helped more than 70,000 Virginia households.

Resources are also available for people living in Prince George's County, other parts of Maryland, and D.C.

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