By Cecilia Chan
GSN Managing Editor

Tyler Owings said he instinctively looked at the thermostat every time he passed it, watching the temperature creep up.

He couldn’t afford a new air conditioner, opting instead last year for a Band-Aid approach, paying $1,500 to replace a broken part until he could save the $6,500 he was quoted for a new unit.

“I was hoping to run this until the wheels fell off,” the 48-year-old Gilbert man said of an air conditioner unit that was so old the parts were increasingly hard to find. “And they were falling off.”

The single dad, who served in the U.S. Army more than two decades ago, said he could probably handle the discomfort, but he worried about his 12-year-old daughter.

“It’s not right for her, especially when the temperatures were getting ridiculous,” he said.

The National Weather Service has been issuing excessive heat warnings most of the month.

But relief came for Owings a day after the Phoenix metropolitan area registered 115 degrees last Tuesday, making it the hottest day so far this year.

Chas Roberts, a family-owned A/C and plumbing company in Phoenix, donated a new cooling system (including installation) to Owings as part of its 10th Annual Cool Play Giveaway.

The company also donated a unit to Mary Root of Mesa and to Arms of Love Foster Care, a nonprofit in Tucson that cares for teens who age out of the foster care system.

Root, a 73-year-old widow, recently took on the responsibility of caregiver to her two great-grandchildren.

To do so, she was forced to move out from the dream home she built with her late husband and move into something more affordable. The home she bought had an old A/C unit, which went out during a few of hot days and she suffered with no A/C for three days.

“We received 256 applications this year, far more than in previous years, and each and every story touched our hearts,” said Sissie Roberts Shank in a news release.

“It was such a difficult decision to pick just two, or even three, but we are glad we can help provide comfort and relief to a few people and organizations in Arizona during this brutal time of year,” she said.

Owings was picked after his co-worker Chava Cannon at National General Insurance in Mesa nominated him.

On the day of the installation, last Wednesday, Owings said he still found it hard to believe he got a free air conditioner.

“Thank God,” he said. “It’s like a huge burden off of me. It was something that was looming over me every time I walked by and looked at the thermostat.”

Owings has been trying to make ends meet as a single dad.

His wife, Anne Marie, unexpectedly died of cardiac arrest in her sleep last year, three days before her 47th birthday. Owings is raising his wife’s daughter, whom he adopted at an early age.

Before the new unit was installed, the two spent a lot of time cooling off in the backyard pool.

The Cool Play Giveaway was initially started by Chas Roberts President and CEO Roberts Shank as a way to help local families or organizations that may be undergoing hardships.

For the donations, the business works in conjunction with vendors Carrier and Goodman, which donated the systems, and Smiley Crane, which provided the crane service for roof installation.

At 75, Chas Roberts is the state’s oldest HVAC provider. Information: chasroberts.com.