By Nyein Sein, Marketing Manager at Aunt Bertha

Extreme summer heat can add hardship for folks already struggling from paycheck to paycheck. When temperatures soar into triple digits, many people are forced to choose between keeping the A/C running and other essentials such as rent, food, and prescriptions. The lack of air conditioning in one’s home, work, and surroundings not only present barriers to sleep, making a living, and exercise but may bring on a range of health concerns. Fortunately, there are many forms of relief for people in need during the hot summer months.

Utility Payment Assistance

If you’re facing financial distress, your utility company may be able to work with you to keep your A/C on. For example, the City of Austin offers a range of programs to help with their electric bills, and also partners with local social service providers to provide for emergency financial aid. Nonprofit organizations across the country can also help provide assistance: for instance, Washington. D.C.-based Mid-County United Ministries (MUM) negotiates with utility companies on behalf of people in need to avoid shutoffs and to restore service quickly.

You can easily find utility payment assistance programs in your area by entering your ZIP Code on Aunt Bertha and navigating to the “help pay for utilities” option under Money. You can also check out other types of financial assistance in your community, such as help paying for food, housing, and more.

Broken A/C and Your Landlord Won’t Budge?

Depending on where you live, you may have legal rights to air conditioning if it is deemed crucial to living in your home. In some sunbelt cities, landlords have to fix broken A/C units within a specified time after a tenant gives written notice for repair. Tenants in Phoenix, for example, can take action after five days if their A/C issues persist and deduct costs from their next month’s rent. Remedies may include:

  • Moving into temporary housing;
  • Purchasing a wall unit;
  • Hiring a contractor to repair the unit.

There’s typically a cap to reimbursement — in Phoenix, it’s $300 or half of the monthly rent, whichever is greater. If you decide to take things into your own hands, make sure you research the laws in your area as well as rules for your property, have proof of notice in writing, a time stamp that shows passing of the required time window, and receipts of expenses you plan to deduct.

Addressing summer heat isn’t just about comfort — it’s about ensuring your health, well-being, and safety. Don’t be afraid to seek help if you need it.

Nyein Sein leads Marketing at Aunt Bertha. She lives in Austin and enjoys reading everything under the sun in her spare time.

Note: This article is not intended as legal advice and should not be taken as such. You can search for free and reduced-cost legal services on Aunt Bertha.

About Aunt Bertha

Our mission is to connect all people in need and the programs that serve them (with dignity and ease). When we started out in 2010, we defined a new way for people to access social services that empowered them to own their search. However, navigation was just the beginning! We believe in giving people who reach out for help the dignity of a response through thoughtful consideration of their journey, from beginning to end. When you seek resources on our platform, you’ll get the help you need, quickly and simply.