The Ripple Effect of Affordable Housing Weatherization
Did you know that low-income households spend up to three times as much income on energy costs compared to average households in the same metropolitan area?
According to a study conducted by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) and Energy Efficiency For All (EEFA), low-income households could alleviate up to 35% of this cost if they were to meet the efficiency level of average U.S. home.
Aside from allocating a larger portion of their income to utilities, families who suffer from an energy burden are also at a higher risk for long-term health effects, economic adversity, and elevated stress. Programs such as the WAP (Weatherization Assistance Program) and LIHEAP (Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program) are established across local, state, and federal levels to aid low-income residents who are already at energy disadvantage.
Implementing the proper weatherization techniques into the development of affordable housing can proactively transform a costly, uncomfortable living space into one that is both energy efficient and affordable. From single to multi-family builds, taking weatherization into consideration before the first family moves in can help create a better living condition for that family, future residents, and the entire community.
The Proactive Affordable Housing Approach
As mentioned above, there are already several programs in place to help assist families who are currently battling with energy-inefficient living situations. Instead of treating the issue after the fact, there is a unique opportunity to go straight to the source and begin enabling weatherization during the initial construction of single, multi-family, and mixed-used affordable housing projects.
This will save your future tenants the hassle of making alterations down the line or not being able to afford renovations at all. Furthermore, these tenants are often constrained by rental agreements that prevent such alterations. As a result, affordable housing tenants are often stuck with aged living spaces that allow warm and cool air inside, consequently triggering an excessive use of heating and cooling systems.
Some methods to increase energy efficiency in a house or apartment include:
• Installing ample, high-quality insulation
• Caulking around doors, windows, and utility penetrations
• Use of energy efficient windows and other components
Weaving weatherization into our affordable housing communities can decrease energy use by nearly 20% and generate bottom line savings between 15-30%. Even a conservative estimate of a 15 percent utility bill reduction will result in a massive savings across posterity. Community Development Corporations can also consider implementing renewable energy sources, such as solar panels, into their project to build an even bigger future of sustainable energy for affordable housing.
Full Circle Benefits of Weatherization
Energy efficiency upgrades in low-income living spaces provide an array of other important benefits. Weatherization efforts reduce resident stress, empowering tenants to perform better at work. Weatherization also decreases tenant utility bills to the point that they have additional income to dedicate on necessities, spend in their local economy, go back to school, save for a home of their own, and more.
Children’s Health Watch found that lowering energy costs has positive effects on children. Their parents are less stressed, their living space is much more comfortable, and their family has extra income to spend on necessities (as well as niceties). Add in the fact that weatherization serves to increase tenant retention and it is easy to see why affordable housing developers are growing increasingly interested in these techniques.
Choosing the Right Partner
Your job as a Community Development Corporation (CDC) means your responsibilities go beyond the construction and preservation of affordable housing solutions. It extends to a larger mission of creating strong, enduring communities and empowering the families that live within them. The general contractor you award a contract to can be the difference between a living space that is properly weatherized for generations to come and one that may not stand the test of time. Let our weatherization experts study the needs of your next affordable housing project and we will identify the key improvements necessary to produce cost-effective energy savings.