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Energy costs associated with medical devices

As a result of their reliance on home health care equipment, like oxygen concentrators and ventilators, more than 2.5 million Medicare beneficiaries are identified as electricity dependent. In order to gain a better understanding, let's examine these common at-home medical products and their associated energy needs.

  • Oxygen concentrators: These medical devices supply their users with more oxygen. One may be prescribed by a doctor if an how to buy how much to rent a hospital bed illness threatens to cause oxygen levels to fall dangerously low.
  • When patients cannot breathe on their own, ventilators pump oxygen into the body mechanically through tubes in the windpipe.
  • Home hemodialysis: These devices treat kidney failure by using an artificial filter called a dialyzer. 
  • In order to regain mobility, the elderly or disabled can use motorized scooters or wheelchairs. Electric scooters are usually recharged at home these days.
  • Keeping your HVAC system on during extreme heat can be the difference between life and death.

There are millions of Americans who rely on these devices, even though most of these terms aren't common to our readers.

The topic of energy is now up for discussion. The average homeowner would have to pay how much it would cost to power each of the following devices for one year? 

Would public electricity companies be able to help? At-risk customers have a difficult time paying their bills due to a lack of standardization across utilities. "State utility commissions determine when and how to terminate vital electric and gas services when nonpayment is due," says the National Consumer Law Center. Having strong rules in the home can mean the difference between life and death for families with a seriously ill member."

Thus, most utilities have the option to assist customers with high energy needs related to medical equipment on their own accord. A good example is the Medical Baseline Program offered by Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E). Under this program, enrolled residential customers receive additional energy every month at the lowest price available. The Basic Allowance is what the program is called. 

Energy equity is addressed in part by programs like the one described above, but until these processes are standardized across state lines, millions of customers will still be burdened with a disproportionate energy burden. Aside from helping level out energy costs, PG&E's baseline program does not facilitate emergency preparedness in the case of a prolonged outage (which PG&E has a history of).

What are the next steps toward providing consumers with reliable, uninterrupted power? Is solar relevant in any of this?