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Gainesville fan program eases seniors’ swelter

Donated devices help residents stay cool, lower bills

POSTED: July 17, 2014 12:30 a.m.
NAT GURLEY/The Times

Lillian Smith's Oakwood mobile home is only partially shaded. Her electric bill when her fan broke and the air conditioner ran all day was $300, she said Wednesday. With the inexpensive fan from the Gainesville-Hall Senior Life Center, her bill dropped to between $160 and $170 a month.

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Gainesville residents are trying to find ways of keeping cool in the summer heat that won’t empty their wallets.

For older members of the community, the Senior Life Center offers a Beat the Heat fan program to save them money on their electricity bills.

“It’s a very simple program to help people stay cool and refreshed during our hottest months of the year,” Phillippa Lewis Moss said.

The Community Service Center director said the program serves adults older than 60 who live in Hall County who are typically on a fixed income.

“There are lots of older adults in our community who have air conditioning and are very conscious about the high cost of electricity and so they frequently like to use fans in a concentrated area of their homes so they don’t have to run their air conditioning unit,” she said.

There are also seniors who opt for fans because their homes are older and not equipped with air conditioning. This program is especially important for them, she said.

“As you know, temperatures can get really hot in our homes, and older adults are particularly vulnerable to heat illnesses like heatstroke.”

The Senior Life Center has also made an effort to provide heat relief by opening its air-conditioned center to the public.

“In past years we have opened the doors at the Senior Life Center to not just older adults, but to people in general, during particularly hot summer months,” Moss said.

Though other heat relief programs have been tried, Beat the Heat is still one of the most popular, she said. It has already given out 44 fans since June and gotten cash and fan donations from businesses around Gainesville.

Senior center member Cheryl Carter said she couldn’t be happier about the community involvement with the program.

“I think it’s great, people volunteering to bring the fans in,” Carter said.

A member of the center for the past eight years, she finally got just the fan she wanted, she said.

“I got one this year — the one that rotates back and forth,” Carter said. “I keep it right in my living room. I’ve been waiting for a long time for one of them.”

Lillian Smith, senior center member since February, was excited when she heard about Beat the Heat, she said.

“I needed a fan and didn’t have any money to get one,” Smith said. “When I learned about the fan program, I thought I could get one.”

The program was a simple solution and has helped reduce her electricity bill, she said.

“It was easy,” said Smith. “I just walked in and got it. It helped me out a lot, and I thank God for it.”



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