Habitat for Humanity of Greater Charlottesville and LEAP Showcase Southwood Mobile Home Energy-Efficiency Retrofits


Habitat for Humanity of Greater Charlottesville and the Local Energy Alliance Program (LEAP) partnered to pilot a mobile home retrofitting project in the Southwood neighborhood in September, and work on the initial 10 homes is nearing completion. To help reduce the high energy bills these residents often face due to poor insulation and inefficient HVAC systems, LEAP and Habitat initiated a partnership to provide energy-efficient, cost-reducing upgrades to their mobile homes. The work was done at no cost to the homeowners and they are already seeing – and feeling – the results.

Isabel Fernandez, a Southwood resident who participated in the pilot program, has noticed a difference in comfort and costs since LEAP insulated and sealed her home. “A lot has changed. Before, there was a lot more cold air coming from the floor, and now it feels so much better. The [new] air system feels stronger and puts out a lot more air, and is not as slow as before,” she reflects. And her monthly utility expenses? According to Fernandez, “The electricity bill was about 70 dollars cheaper than before [the insulation and air sealing work was done]. And that was before LEAP had put in the new air system. I imagine it will decrease my bill even more with this new one.”

“Our goal for the program was to improve the near-term quality of life for Southwood residents while the community is transformed into a vibrant mixed-income, mixed-use neighborhood of permanent homes,” says Habitat President & CEO Dan Rosensweig. “We’re thrilled that the work done through this collaboration has improved the livability and affordability of these homes during the redevelopment of Southwood.”

Thanks to support from, and collaboration with, Dominion Energy, Albemarle County, and an anonymous donor, improvements such as adding roof insulation, repairing or replacing HVAC systems, and sealing drafty windows and doorways have made residents more comfortable, healthy, and safe, while saving them money on their monthly electric bills. As a result of the efficiency work implemented in their homes, recipients are expected to reduce their electricity usage by approximately 45% and save up to an estimated $1,025 a year.

To celebrate and showcase this program, Habitat and LEAP facilitated a short tour of two of the retrofitted mobile homes today, speaking with beneficiaries and technical staff, and concluding with a small reception at the Habitat Southwood office. Attendees included LEAP and Habitat staff, representatives from Dominion Energy, and Albemarle County Supervisors Ann Mallek and Donna Price.

“We are committed to strengthening the communities we serve and are proud to support this project through our EnergyShare program,” said Michael Hubbard, Manager of Energy Conservation, Dominion Energy. “These energy-efficiency and weatherization upgrades, like added insulation and air sealing, have a major impact in helping customers save energy, lower their bills, and make their homes more comfortable.”

After hearing about the pilot during the holiday season, Creative Conservation, a local weatherization provider, agreed to insulate and air seal an additional 5 mobile homes in the community. Local HVAC, plumbing, and electrical contractor Fitch Services also generously provided health and safety repairs at a discounted rate.

“LEAP is really excited about the results of this pilot and looks forward to bringing more retrofits to residents in Southwood and throughout greater Charlottesville,” stated LEAP’s Executive Director, Chris Meyer. “Too many of our neighbors living in mobile homes suffer from high energy bills in the winter months and now we have a solution to provide them.”

All of the stakeholders involved are thrilled with the results of this pilot and look forward to bringing comfort and savings to more mobile home residents in the future. LEAP staff enjoyed getting to know and work with the pilot participants, who are pleased with the process as well. When asked about the experience, participant Isabel Fernandez said, “Everything went really well. The workers were very nice and their work helped us out a lot.”

Key Project Stats:

# of mobile homes receiving HVAC upgrade, air sealing, and insulation: 10

# of kWh saved annually (projected total): 92,940 kWh, or 9,294 kWh per home

Average % reduction on utility bill: 45% annual reduction, equal to up to $1,025 per home

Total estimated Dominion Energy Share Program rebates used: $42,000, or $4,200 per home

Additional issues resolved: Plumbing repairs (water supply leaks, some extensive), duct repairs, venting/adding bathroom fans for indoor air quality and moisture control

Erin Morgan, Marketing and Outreach Manager, Local Energy Alliance Program, erin@leap-va.org, 540-407-2412‬
Dan Rosensweig, President & CEO, Habitat for Humanity of Greater Charlottesville drosensweig@cvillehabitat.org, 434-249-5775


The Local Energy Alliance Program (LEAP) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit headquartered in Charlottesville, VA. As a trusted nonprofit, LEAP delivers direct education and services for improved energy performance that address climate change; create cost savings for families and businesses; enable healthier, safer, and more durable buildings; and bolster local jobs and economic growth.

Website: leap-va.org

Email: info@leap-va.org

Facebook: Local Energy Alliance Program (LEAP)

Twitter: @LEAP_VA

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