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Energy Efficiency Provides Health Benefits

Paul Korzeniowski's picture
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  • Jun 28, 2022
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A new pitch to induce customers to deploy energy efficient systems has emerged. Typically, such messaging centered on price reductions and recently smaller carbon footprints. Energy-efficient facilities also deliver healthier living environments, according to Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, Missouri.

High moisture levels, dust, and other allergens cause poor indoor air quality. Weatherizing a home or an office and making other energy-efficiency upgrades reduces those levels, according to Kevin Kennedy, the environmental health program director at the hospital

Better health is one ripple effect from such improvements. The change eventually reduces the number of visits patients make to the doctor and the amount of medication that they take to manage their conditions.

More Staff Needed  

To institute such a program would require changes to a utility’ energy efficiency staffing. Typically, they send a person who looks at the building, its energy support systems, and how the building is designed, built, operated, and maintained. They then recommend changes to maximize energy usage.

In the new use case, they would also need to send someone capable of explaining energy efficiency’s potential health benefits. That person would examine individuals’ health records, general behavior patterns, and how the company manages and cleans the facility. They correlate that data to possible health benefits and financial savings for individuals and corporations. Energy companies have to train people for this position.

Utilities have been pushing energy efficiency programs, often with not as much impact as desired. The focus on health provides them with the opportunity to convince more customers about the benefits of such programs.

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Katherine Johnson's picture
Katherine Johnson on Jun 29, 2022

This is not a new finding. Utilities, especially IOUs, have been claiming the non-energy benefits (NEBs) in their energy efficiency programs for the past 10 years or so. States and regulators view this issue with differing perspectives, however, it is becoming much more accepted that utilities can include in their cost-effectiveness testing the health benefits of NEBs. ComEd's consultant used the EPA's tools, to estimate the reductions in carbon emissions due to reduced power plant emissions. But on a smaller scale, they also investigated the NEBs associated with the health improvements that weatherization programs provide, such as reduced asthma, improved productivity, and improved health, comfort and safety. 

The DOE commissioned a comprehensive study for its WAP program a few years ago that actually monetized a variety of NEB benefits...and this study led to an increased understanding of the link between energy efficiency improvements to healthy homes. 

Paul Korzeniowski's picture
Paul Korzeniowski on Jul 1, 2022

Thanks for the info. Do you have a link to the report? 

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