At CHP (Community Housing Partners) Energy Solutions we talk a lot about how our work helps people. Our energy efficiency and weatherization programs save families money on utility costs and make homes more comfortable, safe, and healthy. Leading up to Earth Day on April 22, we highlighted how our work also benefits the natural environment we all share and depend on by sharing the Project Drawdown solutions we use in our work.
April 22, 2021
Drawdown refers to the point in the future when, through emission reducing action, greenhouse gases in the atmosphere stop rising and instead, begin to steadily decline. Project Drawdown seeks to help the world reach this future drawdown point by supporting and advocating for climate solutions that already exist. Community Housing Partners (CHP) Energy Solutions’ weatherization and energy efficiency work employs several of these climate solutions and has for over 40 years.
Better insulating a building envelope and sealing gaps and cracks to reduce unwanted airflow, reduces energy use needed to maintain comfortable indoor temperatures and avoids climate changing emissions. It’s that simple and it is one of the most cost-effective ways to increase building energy efficiency. CHP Energy Solutions performs air sealing and installs insulation every day in homes throughout our weatherization service areas. In 2019, we weatherized 6,081 homes.
Lighting accounts for 15% of electric use worldwide. Enter the LED (light emitting diode) bulb. LEDs use 90% less energy while producing the same amount of light, and they last much longer than traditional incandescent or compact fluorescent bulbs. We install LED bulbs at almost every one of our weatherization jobs.
Water use in the home — to shower, flush toilets, clean clothes, and dishes — takes energy to clean, transport, and heat. Low-flow faucets and showerheads can cut water use by 45% without compromising water pressure or quality. CHP Energy Solutions regularly installs faucet aerators and low-flow showerheads when weatherizing a home, and wrap exposed hot water pipes with insulation to reduce energy used for heating water.
Heat pumps work by pulling heat from the air and sending it into a building in the winter and out of a building in the summer. Efficiency varies by local climate, but they do not burn fuel and use less electricity than other systems. Well-functioning, high efficiency heat pumps can dramatically reduce a building’s energy usage especially when paired with adequate insulation and air sealing. When replacing heat pumps, we install right-sized high efficiency units at a SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) rating of no less than 14, but more often 17 or higher.
Most thermostats require manual operation or preset programming, and studies show people are very unreliable in doing either in a way that manages heating and cooling efficiently. With algorithms and sensors, smart thermostats take it to the next level, learning a household’s patterns and adjusting temperatures accordingly. While not yet mainstream, smart thermostat use is predicted to grow rapidly with corresponding energy savings. Current funding allows CHP Energy Solutions to install programmable thermostats, and we make sure to program it upon installation, or make sure the client knows how to.
Ozone depleting CFCs and HCFCs have been phased out, however, their main replacement HFCs, like all fluorinated gases, have a potent ability to warm the atmosphere. Preventing and repairing leaks in cooling systems, and effective disposal of refrigerants at the end of their life, are imperative to lessen their powerful emissions as substitutes are developed and come more widely into use. Testing for refrigerant leaks are a regular part of our energy audits that are the first step in a CHP weatherization project.
Understandably, new net zero construction gets a lot of attention. However, the world has 1.6 trillion square feet of building stock, 99% of which is not very efficient. Retrofitting existing buildings with better insulation and air sealing, improved heating and cooling systems, and other energy saving measures will significantly reduce the 19% of emissions associated with the built environment. Retrofitting is the heart of our mission: CHP Energy Solutions promotes healthier, safer, more energy efficient built environments by providing energy audits, inspections, energy performance upgrades, and building science education.