In the United States, public housing uses 40 percent more energy than privately owned homes. Consequently, the country spends ten times as much on energy expenses for affordable housing than it does on government investments into sustainability programs that are essentially designed to alleviate those costs. As a result, low-income families who have to live in these homes, and the budget-tight public housing agencies (PHA) that help them, are being burdened with utility bills that are becoming increasingly unaffordable.
So what to do about it? According to Greentech Media, the biggest obstacle lies in the construction of the homes themselves. PHAs typically build affordable housing in bulk and as inexpensively as possible, leaving developers with high operating costs. As PHAs have limited budgets already, which are usually allocated for crucial "life-safety issues," they are not able to afford energy efficient renovations that would make these buildings' utilities cheaper for families.
The source reports that the likeliest and most cost-effective method of circumventing this issue is to build efficient homes right from the start. By front-loading building costs with more eco-friendly measures – like insulation and high-performance windows – developers can ensure that affordable housing is designed with energy efficiency in mind, so that families can expect more reasonable energy bills as soon as they move in.
This method is considerably cheaper than adding retrofits for energy efficient homes later on, with a recent study showing that meeting this green criteria would only contribute an additional two percent to development expenses.
Virginia homeowners looking to reduce their own energy bills are encouraged to meet with Virginia home inspectors for an energy audit, which can determine how efficiently your house uses power and what measures can be performed to improve the eco-friendly nature of your home.