The DCSEU is grateful to work with the District Department of Energy and Environment to facilitate the Emergency Heating, Cooling, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) Program. Through this program, we are helping to repair and replace broken heating and air conditioning systems for eligible seniors and people with disabilities in the District who own or rent their home. This is especially important work considering these populations are the most vulnerable to extreme weather conditions.
Low-income families are more susceptible to cold winters because it typically costs more to heat their homes, which are often older and less insulated. They are also less likely to have the available funds to be able to fix a broken heating system when it breaks. Through the Emergency HVAC Program, DC resident Vanessa Brooks was able to receive a new, energy-efficient boiler and hot water heater.
“I used to dread the winter time,” said Brooks. “Now I’m feeling very optimistic about next winter.” Brooks said she was previously unable to heat the second floor of her home due to a broken radiator. Now she says she feels comfortable in her house. Her energy bills have also gone down because the equipment exceeds code requirements for efficiency.
As temperatures start to rise in DC going into summer, we are also starting to help with repairing and replacing central air conditioning systems. According to The Washington Post, roughly 40 percent of low-income DC residents live on “heat islands”—areas with little vegetation to offer solace from the heat. These areas create summers that are roughly 5 degrees hotter during the day and about 7 degrees hotter at night in the District than in surrounding areas.
The program has assisted about 50 DC residents since the DCSEU started facilitating this program in late 2018. We look forward to serving even more people in need as we continue to spread the word about the program at community events throughout the District.
To qualify for the program, DC residents must be over the age of 60 or aged 18 or older with a disability and meet certain income requirements. For example, a family of four would be qualified with a maximum household income of $88,250 per year.
Residents can apply online at: https://doee.libera.com/portal or call 311 to make an in-person appointment at a local energy center.