8 Goes Green

Housing Organization Leads Way in Energy-Efficient Housing

Posted: Jun 4, 2013 6:57 AM by Tom Casselman
Updated: Jun 10, 2013 12:02 AM

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COLUMBIA - Columbia's Community Housing Development Organization (CHDO) is making the homes it builds for low-income families as energy efficient as possible.

CHDO measures its efficiency with a HERS rating. HERS is a computer program that takes a number of factors into account, including insulation ,the number of windows and their placement in the home, as well as appliances. The lower the HERS score, the more energy efficient the home is. The average home built to current housing code has a HERS rating of 100. CHDO most recent houses operate at a level far better than that average.

"Our most recent homes had HERS scores of 72 and 71," said Bill View, executive director of Columbia's Habitat for Humanity. "That means those homes are operating 30 percent more efficiently than the average home."

CHDO focuses primarily on insulating its homes well.

"The main practices they're doing is really enhancing their thermal envelope, making sure they have a good, continuous layer of insulation. An extra thing they have been doing is putting slab edge insulation where the home meets the ground," said Randy Cole, the city of Columbia's community development director.

But CHDO housing is brand new and only made available to a limited range of low-income families. So what can others do to make their own homes more efficient?

The group suggest owners:

  • Make sure lights are halogen, CFL, or LED lights. All of these bulbs last longer and use less energy than standard incandescent bulbs.
  • Replace older, less efficient models of appliances, such as refrigerators, washing machines and dryers.
  • Replace or thicken the insulation to help increase retention in heat and air conditioning.
  • Add more caulk to windows so air won't be able to leak in and out as easily.
  • Turn off lights and water when they're not in use.
  • Unplug appliances not being used.
  • Do laundry at night as opposed to peak hours during the day.

To work with the government and Energy Star to improve a home and save on taxes, click here.

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