Habitat for Humanity to add more solar-powered homes

Published: Mar. 9, 2023 at 11:40 PM EST
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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) - New Habitat for Humanity (H4H) homes are going solar.

According to a press release, the American Institute for Architects donated $500,000 toward the project and H4H officials said Central Valley H4H in Harrisonburg is leading the way.

“They’ve done a number of solar panels, and they’ve had a good experience with it,” Executive Director for H4H Virginia Overton McGehee said.

In Friendly City, H4H is partnering with GiveSolar to put solar systems on Habitat homes built within the next two years.

“We’ll put the solar panels on the roof and the solar panels rest on metal rails that attach to the roof trusses,” Director at GiveSolar Jeff Heie.

Experts say solar systems lower carbon footprints and help families save money.

“In recent years, the cost of electricity has gone up by I think 30% locally and for low-income families, that’s a pretty heavy burden to bear,” Heie said.

“On average, this is going to save those hardworking, low-income families $60 a month and the savings will increase because electricity prices increase,” McGehee said. “For example, if electricity only rose 2% a year these panels should save the family on average $27,000 in the first 25 years.”

Heie said the benefits can even run deeper than that.

“For families who maybe don’t have access to generational wealth, this is a way for them to build generational wealth and that can get passed down,” he said.

As of now, McGehee said only newly-built Habitat homes will be solar-powered, but he hopes this project and the Inflation Reduction Act will open doors to more funding for solar projects on previously built Habitat homes as well.

Heie hopes the perspective surrounding solar systems will change.

“One of the things we’re trying to prove with this project is that solar is for anyone, not just in that upper-income bracket,” he said.

Across Virginia and Washington DC, 39 other H4H affiliates will be working on similar projects.