Nevada: Vegas Retrofits through Building America Enhance Home Performance

Project Overview
Positive Impact: This project demonstrates that home efficiency retrofits, particularly for foreclosed homes offers a new model for communities across the country to save money and create new job and business opportunities. It also demonstrates that cost effective energy-efficiency upgrades can be successfully implemented in a hot, dry Southwest climate.
Locations: Las Vegas, Nevada
Partners: City of Las Vegas
EERE Investment:Technical assistance
Clean Energy Sector: Energy-saving homes, buildings, and manufacturingPDF

The EERE report Retrofitting Vegas: Implementing Energy Efficiency in Two Las Vegas Test Homes notes that during the housing crisis, more than 11% of the existing housing stock in Las Vegas is in foreclosure (more than 8,100 homes). There is strong potential for achieving significant energy savings through retrofit activities in this region. If 10% of those homes implement the two solution packages recommended by two Building America research teams involved in this effort—the Consortium for Advanced Residential Buildings (CARB) and Building America Retrofit Alliance (BARA)—5% at the 50% energy savings target and 5% at the 30% energy savings target, collectively, residents would experience an energy reduction of more than 71,000 MMBtu, or roughly $655,000 in annual utility bill costs.[1] Additionally, the labor and materials needed for these retrofits will help support new job and business opportunities.

Between 2011 and 2013, BARA and CARB worked with the City of Las Vegas to retrofit two foreclosed homes acquired through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Neighborhood Stabilization Program. The retrofits focused on air sealing the building envelope; replacing windows with double-pane, low-e retrofit windows to reduce solar heat gain; and installing a high-performance heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system. The upgrades increased the Carmen home’s efficiency by 51% and the Sierra Hill home’s efficiency by 34The upgrades are predicted to reduce the annual utility bill for the Carmen home by approximately $1,140 (45%) and $480 (29%) for the Sierra Hills home. The program is currently using the energy modeling information to upgrade 12 more homes in Las Vegas, as well as several home retrofits in Henderson, Nevada. The two Las Vegas homes were also used to provide educational experiences to home performance professionals, building trades, remodelers, and the public. Local contractors were trained on air-sealing, insulating, and upgrading heating, ventilation, and air conditioning units.

The Buildings Technologies Office (BTO) leads a vast network of research and industry partners to continually develop innovative, cost-effective energy saving solutions—better products, better new homes, better ways to improve older homes, and better buildings in which we work, shop, and lead our everyday lives.

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[1] P. 45, Retrofitting Vegas: Implementing Energy Efficiency in Two Las Vegas Test Homes