ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Va. (WVIR) - A new partnership between two Charlottesville nonprofits hopes to bring down high energy bills for families living in mobile homes.

The Greater Charlottesville Habitat for Humanity has teamed up with the Local Energy Alliance Program t


o bring down energy costs for at-risk people in the Southwood community. The initiative is beginning with ten homes at the mobile home park in Albemarle County, where some families report bills $500 or more.

Mobile homes face a variety of unique challenges that make them prone to higher heating and cooling costs. They often have less insulation in roofs and walls than traditional housing and since they don't sit on foundations, they suffer air leakage from below as well.

"We expect to be crafting a unique package for each one, but are definitely looking at insulation in the roofs, helping seal up the windows so they aren't leaking so much air, replacing some of the heating equipment that they have. It's usually pretty old and inefficient," said LEAP Executive Director Chris Meyer.

Greater Charlottesville Habitat for Humanity owns the Southwood Mobile Home Park, which recently got approved for a redevelopment project. However, some may not see those new homes for years.

"There are families in Southwood right now that are living in intolerable conditions," said Dan Rosenweig of Habitat for Humanity. "Given that Southwood is a 12 to 15 year project, it may be many years before they move into their new homes, so this is an opportunity to partner with others in the community to improve their near-term quality of life."

Habitat and LEAP consider this a pilot program. They hopes to take what they learn from this project and apply it to efforts like it in the future.

The partnership plans to begin working on the mobile homes in October. The hope is to finish the improvements by December, before the worst of the winter cold.