Utility allowances and rental subsidized housing: methodologies to predict energy use and encourage energy conservation in Virginia

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Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University


This dissertation surveyed Section 8 participants to collect the information necessary to update utility allowances to reflect fy 1983 utility costs. Data was collected regarding the thermal efficiency of units currently under lease and the lifestyles of participants. HUD specified that allowances were to be updated by collecting and analyzing actual energy use data (from previous utility bills if possible). However, VHDA chose to contract with this author to develop a model which could estimate actual energy use from the survey data. Such a model was developed and validated using case studies of Section 8 units that were able to return accurate actual use data; as part of the information requested in the survey. Following model validation, the model was used to update utility allowances and generate a set of allowance worksheets VHDA field agents use when determining levels of assistance under the Section 8 program.

A total VHDA utility budget was then estimated by aggregating the individual utility allowances based on the updated worksheets. The new total utility budget was estimated to be $6.2 million while the previous budget was about $3.8 million. This was clearly higher than VHDA had the funds to cover. Therefore solutions were explored to reduce these budget costs and still provide 100% of the cost of utilities.