Energy conservation is key to keeping homes affordable

AUSTIN- TX - Governor Rick Perry and the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs (TDHCA) have a message for Texans: Energy efficiency can dramatically lower your home's operating costs, making it more affordable.

"Anyone who has spent much time in Texas knows it is a state of extremes in temperature," noted Governor Perry in his proclamation naming Thursday, October 30, 2008, as 'Weatherization Day in Texas.'  "And with energy costs reaching breathtaking levels, now, more than ever, it is important for all Texans to get the most for their money when it comes to heating and cooling their homes. The best way to do that is through weatherization."

Governor Perry issued his proclamation in support of the national designation for "Weatherization Day 2008" by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). Throughout the country, state and local agencies administering DOE weatherization funds are publicizing the benefits of weatherization and an energy efficient home, particularly for elderly persons, persons with disabilities, and households with very young children.

"Our weatherization program reflects TDHCA's position that energy efficiency is an important component of an affordable housing policy," said Michael Gerber, TDHCA Executive Director. "Low income families spend a significantly greater percentage of their income on energy costs than does the average household, making it more difficult to afford their homes. Energy efficiency and home affordability work hand in hand to create an improved quality of life for thousands of our state's most vulnerable residents."

To back up this stance, the Department provides incentives to the developers of affordable rental properties it finances to use energy efficient alternative construction materials, as well as the installation of high efficient Energy Star appliances in each unit. All contractors constructing or rehabilitating single family housing using TDHCA funds must ensure that all units comply with the applicable minimum energy efficiency ratings.

"By making certain the properties we finance are as efficient as possible, TDHCA is helping make housing more affordable for low income Texans while reducing the demand on our state's electric grid," Gerber explained. "This has enormous benefits for all residents of the state as well as our environment. We all win with energy efficient housing."

TDHCA encourages all Texans, regardless of their income, to make their homes as energy efficient as possible. Here are some basic tips to follow when weatherizing your home:

  • Adjust the thermostat to slightly lower temperatures in the winter and slightly higher temperatures in the summer when your family is sleeping.
  • Replace the return air filters in the home on a monthly basis.
  • Remove furniture that may be blocking the return air to your heating and cooling units. This ensures proper circulation of air.
  • Check the direction of ceiling fans: in the winter set the fans to move air downward (counterclockwise); in the summer, set fans to move the air upward (clockwise).
  • Close drapes or blinds to eliminate solar heat through the windows.
  • Install Compact Florescent Light (CFL) bulbs, which use five times less electricity, last seven times longer, and produce less heat than an ordinary light bulb.
  • Install glass doors or dampers in fireplaces to reduce air infiltration.
  • Set water heater to 120°. Add an insulation blanket if the unit is located outside the home.
  • Add insulation to exposed water pipes.
  • Install low flow shower heads and faucet aerators to conserve hot water usage.
  • Repair leaky faucets.
  • When not in use, close fireplace flue to keep drafts out.
  • Weather strip exterior door jambs.
  • Install insulation in your attic, walls, and floors.
  • Install solar screens to eliminate solar heat through the windows.
  • Install storm windows, or add caulking to the perimeter of the existing windows to reduce the infiltration of cold air in the winter and warm air in the summer.
  • Replace old appliances with new energy efficient models. Look for the Energy Star label.
  • Use dishwashers, washers and dryers at night.

The Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs is the state agency responsible for affordable housing, community services, energy assistance, and colonia housing programs. The Department annually administers more than $400 million through for-profit, nonprofit, and local government partnerships to deliver local housing and community-based opportunities and assistance to Texans in need.