Dana Guzman is a resident of Casas de la Viña, a 56-unit affordable apartment rental community that serves low-income families and farmworkers. The mother of two boys, Dana moved to Casas de la Viña when she needed to find a new home after the death of her husband.
Casas de la Viña is one of several properties owned by Self-Help Enterprises, an organization that develops affordable housing to serve the needs of low-income Central Valley residents. One of the many ways that Self-Help Enterprises supports low-income families is by helping them save money on their electric bills through improvements made throughout their properties.
Self-Help Enterprises was able to install solar photovoltaic (PV) systems and make energy efficiency improvements at Casas de la Viña with Cap-and-Trade dollars from Department of Community Services and Development's (CSD) Low‐Income Weatherization Program (LIWP). LIWP’s Multi-Family Energy Efficiency and Renewables program administrator, the Association for Energy Affordability, provides technical assistance and incentives for the installation of energy-efficiency measures and solar PV in low-income multi-family dwellings in disadvantaged communities. The LIWP Multi-Family program not only reduces GHG emissions, it also reduces energy costs. And, by lowering operating costs for property owners, it also helps preserve affordable housing.
Proteus, a non-profit that provides education, job training, job placement, and other services to farm working families, installed several of the energy-saving measures on the property. Overall, the project included a deep energy efficiency and renewable energy retrofit, with the installation of more than 181 kilowatts of solar panels generating 95 percent of the development’s onsite to offset resident energy bills. The project also consisted of the installation of efficient new heat pump heating and cooling systems, heat pump water heaters, energy efficient windows, LED lighting, refrigerators and plumbing fixtures.
Dana has seen first-hand the benefits of the improvements made to Casas de la Viña. “The improvements are really helping because it’s saving me money,” said Dana. “I’m saving up to $70 a month on my bills; I’m only paying $25 for PG&E. That makes a huge difference.”
Thanks to Casas de la Viña’s participation in the LIWP Multi-Family program, the community expects to achieve zero net energy, with the property now generating as much energy as it consumes. Over its lifetime, the solar PV system and installed energy efficiency measures will lead to an estimated reduction of over 3,000 MTCO2e in GHG emissions.
Just as important, the residents of Casas de la Viña will now be able to use the money they save on utility bills to support their family’s other critical needs. In Dana’s case, those savings are going towards necessities like clothes and school supplies for her boys.