Energy efficiency can improve public health by reducing pollution and making people’s homes safer. ACEEE’s new Health & Environment program is doing pioneering research to document how saving energy does more than save money — it protects health.
Reducing energy waste reduces pollution. By saving energy in buildings and making vehicles more fuel efficient, we burn less fossil fuel and reduce the pollutants they emit. Fossil fuel pollution contributes to four of the leading causes of death in the United States: cancer, chronic lower respiratory diseases, heart disease, and stroke. While our air is getting cleaner overall, four of every 10 people in the United States still live where the air is unhealthy. This pollution is especially harmful to children, the elderly, and people with respiratory illnesses such as asthma. One of every 13 US residents has asthma, now the most common chronic disease that sends our kids to the hospital. Each year, we spend more than $50 billion on its treatment.
Energy efficiency policies and programs have already reduced pollution equivalent to what would have been produced by hundreds of power plants and improved the fuel economy of tens of millions of new vehicle. These programs and policies hold the potential to reduce even more pollution.
Cleaner air means better health and longer lives, particularly for those with respiratory illnesses. We have no cure for asthma, but we do know what triggers attacks. Mold, exposure to cold air or sudden temperature changes, air pollution, and pollen are all culprits. Fortunately, these triggers can be managed, reduced, and in some cases even eliminated through energy efficiency measures. Sealing holes that let moisture into a house helps prevent mold, reduces the influx of outdoor pollution, and eliminates exposure to drafts and sudden temperature changes. Changing your furnace’s filter ensures that particles in the air don’t circulate throughout your house.
Energy efficiency directly benefits the health of the general public as well as families who make their homes more efficient. Yet so far, efforts to understand and quantify these benefits have been limited. ACEEE’s research in this emerging and promising field aims to provide critical information about the benefits to the public, energy and health policymakers, advocates, and stakeholders. This page will host our upcoming research reports, videos, and fact sheets. In December 2018 we will hold the first-ever Conference on Health, Environment, and Energy in New Orleans.