• As increasing heat waves threaten Washington communities, state’s heating program for low-income households now includes cooling options

    September 14, 2021

    This past June, Washington confronted a smothering heat dome that ended up being the deadliest weather event in Washington history. It contributed to 125 heat-related deaths and nearly 450 excess deaths, such as strokes and heart attacks brought on by heat stress. Unsurprisingly, researchers found that people who are low income or experiencing homelessness are the most vulnerable during heat waves.

    The changing climate means such heat events are increasingly likely during Washington’s summer months. According to the National Weather Service, extreme heat has led to more deaths than other extreme weather events in the United States over the last 30 years. Ensuring residents can stay cool or warm is vital to their health, which means protecting the most vulnerable to prevent deaths and hospitalizations.

    infographic showing that benefits now include cooling systems and air purifiers

    But adding cooling or air conditioning to a home can cost thousands of dollars to install. That’s why, after 40 years of helping low-income households with heating expenses, the Washington State Department of Commerce recently modified the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) to cover cooling and air conditioning.

    Continue reading on Commerce's Medium site

     

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