Summer time in Minnesota means an end to icy sidewalks, plenty of walks (or rolls) around the lakes and HEAT. It’s about this time of year that I start getting inquiries about energy assistance and cooling vests. For the elderly and those with conditions such as MS and Spinal Cord Injury, heat is a serious topic—so let’s address it early.
To find resources for staying cool in your home, visit the Minnesota Department of Commerce Web site. In addition to energy incentives, grants and financial assistance, their Minnesota Weatherization and Field Guide provides Best Practices for Improving the Comfort, Safety, and Efficiency of Existing Homes. Their Home Energy Guide Techniques, Tactics and Tips will teach you how to cool efficiently to lower monthly energy bills and also help the environment. This guide presents a wide range of energy saving strategies, including passive cooling methods, effective use of fans, guidelines for purchasing air conditioners, and tips on efficient operation and maintenance of air conditioning equipment. If you’re a senior or low-income household living in Blue Earth, Brown, Faribault, Le Sueur, Martin, Nicollet, Sibley, Waseca, or Watonwan counties, the Minnesota Valley Action Council will help you pay your energy bills. For financial assistance in Hennepin County, contact their Health, Housing and Social Services department. You can also go straight to the source. Xcel Energy provides programs to assist at-risk and special-needs households. Through the collaborative efforts of state and local agencies, low-income advocates and Xcel Energy’s Personal Accounts department, customers can get help with bill payment problems and gain access to weatherization services for their homes. These services promote the efficient use of energy, while making energy bills more affordable.
Staying cool by holing yourself up is not an option for many. Going to the grocery store, getting prescriptions and working outside the home are necessities that can be dangerous when temperatures reach into the 90s. Let alone gardening, working outdoors or just watching a baseball game. Cooling vests have special technology sewn right into them to help the wearer stay cool for two to eight hours. Silver Eagle offers cooling vests, headwear, blankets and even cooling products for animals. The Arctic Heat Cooling Vest was used by the USA Olympic Teams in Athens 2004. Body Cooler offers neck wraps, wrist bands and a stylish cooling vest option for ladies that features a calico-print fabric in soft colors.
While you’re out and about you might as well go someplace cool! Malls, senior centers and libraries are all free and, most importantly, air conditioned. So are the public transportation vehicles. For a 2006-2007 Specialized Transportation Service Directory for Senior and Disabled Citizens in the Metro Area, visit the Senior Community Services Web site.
Enjoy the summer, take the heat seriously and as they said in the 70s, “Stay Cool!”
Lisa Schmidtke is president and founder of Housecalls Network, a directory of resources to help seniors, people with disabilities and their caregivers live independently. Housecalls Network does not endorse any particular provider. They assume no responsibility for transactions between readers and listed organizations. FFI: lisa@house calls-network.com, 952-221-0722, www.housecalls-network.com
Agapë Transition Services: 612-849-8811
Arctic Heat: www.arcticheatusa.com
Body Cooler: www.housecalls-network.com
Xcel Energy: www.xcelenergy.com
Hennepin County: www.co.hennepin.mn.us
MN Depart. of Commerce: www.state.mn.us
MN Valley Action Council: www.mnvac.org
Sr Community Services: www.seniorcommunity.org
Silver Eagle: www.coolingvests.com.au