Residents of energy efficient apartments save an average of $54 a month, or $648 annually, on their electricity bills, according to a Housing Virginia study that demonstrates the impacts of energy efficient construction requirements in affordable rental housing.

The LIHTC Program is the primary federal housing program designed to create rental housing that is affordable to families and seniors with low and moderate income. Under the program, private investors in affordable rental housing receive a tax credit as an incentive for investment. The program serves families and seniors with incomes up to 60 percent of the area median. In 2014, 60 percent of the area median income was $46,500 for a family of four. The program produces over 100,000 apartments every year nationally and approximately 2,000 per year across Virginia.

The yearlong study conducted by Virginia Tech’s Center for Housing Research also finds that apartments built to higher energy efficiency standards, including third party testing and inspection, outperform new standard construction housing by more than 40 percent with respect to energy consumption.

The study is the first of its kind in Virginia and one of the first in the nation to verify actual electricity usage in apartments built to meet high level efficiency standards. Another key finding of the study is that construction standards of this type have a significant impact on the affordability of apartments for lower income families and seniors. The impact is greater as incomes are lower. For example, at 30 percent of median income, the average tenant will see their ability to afford housing increase by nearly 10 percent. In Virginia, 30 percent of area median income is an income of$23,250 per year for a family of four.