The cities of the central-southern Chile have serious deficiencies in housing insulation, causing an excessive use of firewood for heating —which raises the levels of environmental pollution. This poor insulation also brings problems such as poor indoor comfort conditions, with low indoor temperatures and high heating costs for houses.
Although it has been recognized that improvements in housing thermal quality (insulation and sealants) could solve all these problems, there is very little investment in energy efficiency improvements at the residential level. This is mainly due to the scant information provided to householders, who are ultimately the ones who make these improvements.
To change this situation, the Instituto Forestal (INFOR) —through the initiative of the Observatorio de los Combustibles Derivados de la Madera (OCDM)— will implement in Valdivia the project ‘Support system to improve the competitiveness of related companies to the energy efficiency industry in the residential sector of Los Ríos Region’, which is funded by the CORFO’s Programa de Bienes Públicos (Public Goods Program) and is supported by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Planning (MINVU), the Cámara Chilena de la Construcción (CChC), and the Ministry of Energy. This initiative seeks to generate access to technical information that allows energy efficiency improvements to be made in houses. “This project is very relevant for the city of Valdivia because it will allow to be aware of the problems that the houses have and the possible solutions, as well as to develop the necessary technical support. In addition, it is a model that can be replicated in all the cities of the central-southern regions of the country that today have the same problems”, explains Alejandra Schueftan, INFOR researcher and project director.
The professional explains that they will also work on the training and certification of energy advisors, who will be responsible for making the diagnosis of the energy status of the houses, delivering recommendations and verifying the correct implementation of these improvements. All this information will be freely available on the web platform www.observatoriobiomasa.cl
“These tools will allow users to understand the technical problems of their houses, access qualified advice to determine the improvements to be made, select the companies and contractors that best suit their needs and investment possibilities, and monitor the correct implementation of the works. This entire support system aims to increase the demand for energy efficiency improvements in houses”, details Schueftan.
In turn, the regional director of CORFO Los Ríos, Pablo Díaz, highlighted the potential that the information generated by this project will have for two important stakeholders. “On the one hand, for those of us who are users of firewood: it will help us to obtain information about the performance of our houses in terms of efficiency and thus make a series of actions to reduce firewood consumption and hence pollution. And, on the other hand, it will be useful for the providers of energy efficiency services”, he said.
Another element emphasized by Díaz is that the subject matter addressed by this project allows collaborative work between various institutions for the generation of information, in an area where the country has been advancing in recent years.
“Having the approval of a regional initiative, such as this Public Good, implies that a very good technical job and diagnosis were done, and, above all, that the solutions proposed woud have a relevant impact on citizens”, said the regional director of CORFO.
Finally, for CORFO, this initiative opens opportunities to develop new business areas, since energy and energy efficiency are great and new development poles for Los Ríos Region, “and, above all, because the participatory companies of the project, as service providers, are small ones”, concluded Pablo Díaz.