(Photo credit: U.S. Navy Specialist James E. Foehl)

Many U.S. cities are in dire need of affordable housing, and what is available often needs repair. But making buildings more energy efficient can help – taking steps such as updating the windows, caulking, resupplying insulation, and upgrading the HVAC system.

Making efficiency improvements can lower utility bills for renters, says Khalil Shahyd, a senior policy advocate with the Natural Resources Defense Council. And if the utilities are paid by a landlord, that can help them avoid raising the rent.

But many building owners lack the up-front cash required to invest in energy efficiency improvements, so Shahyd says it’s important to have utility and government programs to help cover the costs.

And he says those programs should be paired with agreements that prevent apartment building owners from flipping the upgraded units to a higher market rate.

“If we can support those building owners that provide affordable housing to low-income families in multifamily units,” he says, “we’re taking a huge step and a huge burden off of those building owners and allowing those buildings to stay and to maintain affordability.”

And at the same time, that helps provide residents with safer and more comfortable homes.

Reporting credit: ChavoBart Digital Media.