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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 income on energy making them more vulnerable to rising energy costs. Habitat for Humanity houses are built for low-income families and made affordable through construction material donations. Hence, the trade-off between the initial construction cost and life-time energy cost needs to be evaluated carefully. This paper targets to support better-informed decisions that balance the affordability of certain construction materials with their 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 in accordance with their corresponding initial investment costs, which were retrieved from RS Means standard construction cost and quotations from industry. The results show that the energy cost of these houses can be reduced without significantly increasing the construction costs through exploration of different wall and window options. While the specific suggestions apply to this case-study only, the utilized approach to identify energy saving opportunities can be utilized for understanding its 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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