Expanding benefits of energy efficiency: healthy living


a man and woman in a cozy living room with a fireplace

Improving the energy efficiency of your home can do a lot to improve your health.

A recent report from the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy looked at 63 energy-efficiency programs across the U.S. It found saving energy can lessen exposure to air pollution, mold, pests and extreme temperatures, thereby reducing the likelihood or severity of health issues exacerbated by these conditions.

How? Energy-efficient homes are tightly sealed from air leaks, which can help stop outside air pollution and excessive moisture from entering through cracks in windows, attics, basements, crawl spaces and other areas. ACEEE also found high-efficiency heating, ventilating and air conditioning systems can reduce indoor airborne contaminants such as particulate matter, mold and allergens from dust mites and other pests.

Energy improvements to a home can go a long way toward reducing indoor asthma triggers and mitigating asthma attacks. They also offer the potential to alleviate symptoms of other respiratory illnesses including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Insulation and other weatherization upgrades can deliver other important health benefits, according to ACEEE. The report highlights one study that found residents of inefficient homes were 50% more vulnerable to heat stress during a heat wave than residents of efficient homes, and that energy-efficiency upgrades would reduce this risk to only 4%.

Other studies found correlations between energy efficiency and reductions in hypertension, fatigue and other conditions. The health benefits of energy efficiency can be particularly significant for low-income families, who are more likely to live in less-than-adequate housing and suffer from chronic diseases stemming from the indoor environment.

While more research is needed to quantify the correlation between energy efficiency and improved health, it’s exciting to learn there’s yet another reason to make our homes more efficient, in addition to increasing comfort, conserving energy and saving money.

Whether you want to upgrade your heating, ventilating and air conditioning system or tighten your home against air leaks and temperature extremes, Energy Trust offers cash incentives to help you get the job done.