RICHMOND, Va. – Basic steps for Virginia’s affordable housing will have a huge energy efficiency payoff, according to two new studies. The National Housing Trust and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) are part of a broad coalition looking at the issue.
Michael Bodaken, executive director with the housing trust, says basic measures like compact florescent bulbs, low-flow faucets, double-pane windows, and better insulation would yield big results in existing affordable apartments; $21 billion in energy savings in eight states over the next twenty years. He says in Virginia the return is nearly three times the cost.
“Tripling my investment in something that actually helps make people more energy efficient, healthier and more comfortable seems like a good thing to consider,” says Bodaken.
More on how to at energyefficiencyforall.org Wednesday the Virginia Housing Coalition and Virginia Conservation Network are hosting an efficient housing press tour at the Somanath Senior Apartments in Richmond.
The studies found families in Virginia’s affordable housing apartments could cut twenty percent from their natural gas consumption and nearly thirty percent from their electricity use. Deron Lovaas, with Urban Solutions at the Natural Resources Defense Councilm says this is big, low hanging fruit, which also means savings for the utilities and the apartments’ owners.
He says with a little better information, incentives and financing, utilities and property owners in other states already are seeing lower energy use and better bottom lines.
“If owners and managers have a pathway to energy efficiency programs and a pathway to financing, they’ll take advantage of that. We’ll see savings accrue to tenants, owners and managers alike,” says Lovaas.
For the owners of affordable housing such as the housing trust, Bodaken says the upgrades mean keeping units on the market longer and keeping rents down. For utilities they mean fewer unpaid bills and lower collection costs. He says there are about 400,000 affordable apartment units in Virginia and many could use the improvements.
“Older buildings with inadequate insulation, lousy windowpanes, air filtration issues,” says Bodaken. “They’re pretty basic. These are not exotic measures. This is something we can control and make money doing it.”