High AC Bills Making Tough Times for Low Income Families

By: Cole Miller

Now that temperatures are finally starting to fall, the attention turns to paying those utility bills. Air conditioners, working overtime during the recent heat wave, come at a cost and a very high cost for low income families.

Beatty Brasch, Director of the Center for People in Need, worries for the 14 percent of Lincoln's population living in low income. “I'm very concerned that after this heat wave, the people that do have air conditioning, how they're ever going to pay the bill.”

Although the Center for People in Need distributed nearly 1,500 electric fans as lower cost alternatives, Brasch says many families were forced to keep their air conditioners hard at work.

“They hardly have enough money, most of them, to pay for the utilities and pay for their rent. So any additional cost just throws them for a loop, they can't do it.”

One of the center's volunteers knows firsthand how difficult it can be to overcome the extra cost. Krista Handy, now training as a receptionist with the center, was laid off from her job and began volunteering to receive state aid. She says using methods such as blankets over windows and keeping doors shut can cut down on utility expenses.

“It's very hard with the low income to be able to keep up on your bills regularly. I know that we've tried to come up with different ways that we can try and conserve energy. Just really try to conserve your energy when you're in a really tight spot like this,” said Handy.

Both Brasch and Handy say if you feel like you may fall behind on your bills, don't be afraid to call and ask questions on how to receive help. Starting this fall, the center hopes to help families make their homes more energy efficient, for both the summer and winter months.