When it comes to solutions around our climate, housing, and energy challenges, we are often drawn to the high tech and high cost. Carbon capture, battery storage, and renewable energy production are important and will continue to be key solutions moving forward. But an often-overlooked solution involves far less technology and cost: energy efficiency.
The need to improve energy efficiency in our homes and buildings is significant. In the DMV, buildings make up 52% of greenhouse gas emissions. A report by the NRDC cites residential energy efficiency as possibly the largest source of CO2 reduction potential in the country. Across the U.S., around 25% of households are ‘energy burdened’, paying more than 6% of their income on energy bills. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, over 7 million families in the U.S. were already having to make difficult choices between paying utility bills and other essentials like groceries and medicine every single month. This is not just due to rising utility prices. A majority of Americans live in homes that are not insulated sufficiently, with that burden falling most heavily on lower income families, families living in multi-family properties, and minority populations. This means families need to turn the thermostat higher (or lower) to find a basic a level of comfort. Energy is being wasted.
In response, the federal government, along with gas and electric utilities, has increased support for energy efficiency and weatherization programs. The U.S. Department of Energy last month announced a $3 billion investment in the federal Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) to support lower income households. This is the country’s largest whole-house energy efficiency program and helps to reduce utility costs and make efficiency upgrades for low-income households. Most major Virginia utilities now offer energy efficiency programs for age and income qualifying households as well. Programs serve renters and homeowners across Northern Virginia, with WAP reducing utility bills by around 20%. But programs remain underutilized.
Community Housing Partners (CHP) Energy Solutions is the largest Weatherization Assistance Program provider in Virginia, and the WAP provider for Northern Virginia. CHP Energy Solutions helps income and age qualifying households reduce energy costs by improving the energy efficiency and health of their homes – all at no cost to the homeowner, renter, or landlord. Using the federal Weatherization Assistance Program, and in collaboration with gas and electric utility partners, CHP Energy Solutions has served 10,000 homes in Northern Virginia over the past decade. But there is more work to be done.
Improving the energy efficiency of our houses, apartments, manufactured homes, and multi-family properties will be an essential piece in addressing the climate and housing challenges facing Northern Virginians. Households interested in applying for weatherization programs can fill out a brief screening form on the CHP Energy Solutions website, or give us a call at 888-229-3714.