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Paper lc3-2017-067:
Energy Efficient Improvements to the Envelope of Low-Income Housing: A Case Study of Habitat for Humanity Homes

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Avani Goyal, Ahmet Kilinc, Minkyung Kang and Burcu Akinci

Energy Efficient Improvements to the Envelope of Low-Income Housing: A Case Study of Habitat for Humanity Homes

Abstract: Low-income families pay substantial portions of their total expenditure on household energy bills, making them vulnerable to rising energy costs. Habitat for Humanity houses are built for low-income families and made affordable with volunteer work and construction material donations. Hence, the trade-off between the homes’ initial construction costs and their life-time energy costs must be evaluated carefully. This paper targets to support better-informed decisions that balance the affordability of certain construction materials with their potential for energy efficiency. In collaboration with Habitat for Humanity of Westchester, we created an energy simulation model of an existing low-income house and calculated the home’s annual energy usage with different design alternatives for windows and walls. The resulting estimated annual energy savings are then evaluated alongside their initial investment costs, which were retrieved from RS Means standard construction cost data and quotations from industry. The results show that it is possible to reduce the energy cost of these houses without significantly increasing the construction costs through exploration of different wall and window options. While specific enclosure suggestions apply to this case-study, the utilized approach on exploring different options to identify opportunities to save energy can be used to understand impact on the lives of low-income families.

Keywords: Low-Income Housing, Energy Efficiency, Cost Analysis, Residential Housing, Habitat for Humanity

DOI: https://doi.org/10.24928/JC3-2017/0067

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Series: jc3:2017 (browse)
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