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Predicted record heat brings concerns over cooling bills

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By STEPHANIE CARROLL
CARSON
Florida News Connection

TALLAHASSEE — The cost of cooling Florida homes is expected to rise this summer, with predicted record high temperatures and a proposed rate hike from one of the state's major electricity suppliers, Florida Power and Light. The added cost will be hard to afford for many Floridians, particularly seniors, explains AARP spokesman Greg Tanner.
"They find themselves being caught in the middle of having to split paying utility bills compared to maybe paying a prescription drug coverage or buying groceries."
Tanner says simple things like turning off appliances when they are not in use and shutting off unnecessary lights can lead to big savings. He adds that switching to high-efficiency light bulbs and setting thermostats a few degrees higher can also help. Even washing clothes in cold water can add up to savings.
In addition to affording the high cost of cooling their homes, Tanner says seniors are also challenged by the fact that many don't have the ability or expertise to perform more difficult cost-cutting measures, like adding insulation or resealing windows. He says that's where family and friends can step in to help.
"Not only is it cost-cutting savings, it potentially prevents an injury from happening to that individual. And for the younger person, it feels good to walk away knowing you helped someone."
AARP offers information on programs available to help low-income people save energy at www.aarp.org.