The ‘Home Uplift Project’ improves energy efficiency and quality of life in government-subsidized housing

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. -- Alabama summers are hot and people living in the Northwoods Public Housing community have long-suffered AC units that don’t work and need repairing.

The Tennessee Valley Authority, Huntsville Housing Authority, and Huntsville Utilities have partnered together to fund and execute the Home Uplift Project. They’re removing the existing air conditioning and heating units in the community and are replacing them with completely new systems.

The original units were about 12 years old and were constantly needing repair.

“We were having to chase them on a daily basis practically trying to keep them running and everybody happy," said Mike Norment with the Huntsville Housing Authority.

Debra Stokes is a community resident and has personally experienced a broken unit. Repairs took a couple of days.

“One time it was so hot, and I turned it on and it wouldn’t come on," Stokes said. "So yeah, I experienced it a few times myself.”

The new units will also help with the energy efficiency, which means the utility bills will be slightly less costly.

But the focus of the project is not only to improve energy efficiency, it’s also to study the non-energy benefits that relate to improvements being made in the home.

“We can quantify the energy savings and the efficiency of new heating and air systems and things of that nature," said Scott Harrell with the Tennessee Valley Authority. "How does it impact the asthma of the residents in the home, how does it impact COPD. You could look beyond that and go, Does it impact days missed work? Trips to the ER?”

It turns out those are the benefits some of the residents are looking forward to the most.

“Everyone’s talking about the air. It’s not so much about paying less, they’re focusing on the air," Stokes said.

Investors for this project are hoping to develop a case for sustainable funding for future projects. This funding will improve more than 200 homes in the Northwoods neighborhood.