August 9, 2013 — The AARP Public Policy Institute released a report that projects seniors will spend an average of $262 to cool their households this summer. While this is only a slight bump from the 2012 average of $260, it represents a 28 percent increase since 2007.
The report further breaks down the cost by region, finding that 40 percent of all residences using cooling equipment are found in the Census Bureau's South Region. Within this region, AARP finds that seniors are projected to spend "substantially more" on cooling costs than those living other areas (see table below). The average cost for seniors in this region of the country is projected to be $354, with a high in the South Atlantic Division of $412.
AARP says the cooling challenges faced by seniors aren't made easier by the lack of available assistance. According to the LIHEAP Clearinghouse, not every state runs a cooling program. AARP also notes that, even when cooling assistance is available, the grants are generally less than half the amount of those for heating. Additionally, the report states that less federal LIHEAP funding was available for the 2013 cooling season due to federal sequestration.
Media reports throughout the summer provide anecdotal evidence supporting AARP's report:
- In South Florida, a non-profit administering cooling funds said applications by seniors has increased from 5 percent to 28 percent over the last decade.
- In Delaware, two elderly citizens died, in part, from heat-related problems this summer.
- In Oklahoma, the state's overall cooling program gave out all of its funding in one week.
Sources: AARP, LIHEAP Clearinghouse, media reports