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A line stretched outside the front door of Boone County Family Resource Center this morning as Columbia residents waited to exchange their old air conditioning units for more efficient new ones. The Boone County Family Resource Center and the Columbia Water and Light Department joined together to orchestrate an event to help at-risk individuals stay cool this summer.
Adam Tipton is Community Services Supervisor for The Family Resource Center, and says he is happy with Friday's turnout. "We provided 25 units today," Tipton said. "That's a pretty good start for the first day. Last year we donated 60 units for the entire summer, and this year we're looking to exchange 96 units."
According to the Department of Health and Senior Services, 55 percent of the heat-related deaths reported between the years 2000-2006 were among people 65 years of age and older. Friday's event dedicated particular focus to three demographics: senior citizens, individuals who recieve disability benefits and children younger than five.
Victoria Ung is a mother of four children and, like other at the event, Ung says she is excited about the prospect of cold air at a lower price. She said that the past two summers have been a burden due to her costly, inefficient unit.
"My bills were real high because I would turn on my air conditioner and it would work, but it wouldn't get cold." Ung says she worries about her daughter who is almost one year old. She says the heat affects her more than her older sons.
Terry Freeman is the residential services supervisor at the city utility department. Freeman says events like the air conditioner exchange benefit everyone because they encourage energy efficiency and also make utility bills more managable.
"A lot of times people can't afford to buy a more energy efficient equipment, and by exchanging these old energy hogs, we can save the efficiency from 25 to 50 percent and that's a great way to cut down on the financial burden for people."
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