Did you know that the Environmental Protection Agency puts indoor air quality as one of the top five risks to public health? Poor air quality, damp spaces, and drafty rooms don't just make your day an uncomfortable one; they can be hazardous to your health and overall wellbeing.
Here we discuss ways to be energy efficient, and how that efficiency can benefit your physical and mental health.
What Is Energy Efficiency?
Before we get into the health benefits that come from energy efficiency, we must understand what it means to be efficient. How do you define "energy efficiency"? Most will say it's reducing the amount of energy you use, which is true. But what most people don't think about are their appliances and their role in conservation.
You can be very mindful of the amount of energy you use every day, but if your appliances aren't efficient, there's little you can do to save. After all, you need to heat your home, do laundry, and run the dishwasher. No matter what you try to personally do to save, if your systems and appliances are outdated, your conservation efforts will fall short.
We define "energy efficiency" as follows:
Using methods and technologies that require less energy to perform the same function.
For example, swapping an incandescent light bulb for a light-emitting diode (LED) is an energy-efficient step you can take in your home, as less energy is now required to do the same job.
Not only does saving energy help the environment and allow you to reduce electricity costs, but it can also drastically improve your quality of life on a day-to-day basis. Here's how!
A Properly Ventilated Home Is a Healthy One
A key part of keeping your home free of contaminants and pollutants is proper ventilation. While you want to make the most of heating and cooling equipment, you also want to ensure you're not trapping any pollutants in your home.
When making energy-efficient upgrades to your house, be sure to take the time needed to check air filters and airflow systems. Have ventilation systems regularly serviced and know the warning signs that come with toxic levels of particular matter, like headaches, nausea, and throat issues.
The EPA states that most people spend 90% of their time indoors and, in some cases, indoor levels of pollutants can be more than 100 times higher than outdoor levels. (Source)
Having a home that can efficiently move contaminated air out is vital to the health of your family.
Insulate Your Way to Health
Since heating and cooling costs make up the bulk of your electricity bill, it stands to reason that you want to insulate your home properly. But did you know that by weatherizing your home (protecting it from the elements while optimizing energy efficiency), you're also benefiting your health?
A warm, dry home helps in the fight against illness. Damp environments have been shown to exacerbate allergies and may even lead to respiratory problems, thanks to high levels of moisture and more opportunities for mold to flourish.
Don't just seal cracks and fix gaps in windows and doors for the monetary perk; do it for the health of your loved ones!
Retrofit to Stay Fit
While retrofitting, or the process of adding new technology or features to older systems, may seem like a costly undertaking, the health benefits show that it's a worthwhile investment. If you're not able to increase your home's energy efficiency by making a few tweaks, it may be time to consider retrofitting.
The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy has this to say about the process: "Retrofits can improve occupants’ health, safety, and comfort, in addition to lowering maintenance costs and increasing property value."
The report "Recognizing the Value of Energy Efficiency's Multiple Benefits" (pdf) goes on to state, "For single-family homes, the value of these benefits has been estimated at anywhere from 50% to 300% of energy cost savings." A great argument for upping your home's efficiency!
Don't Forget About the Mental Health Perks
What's a big stressor that can severely impact mental health? Money. Prolonged stress can not only weaken your immune system, but it can put you at a higher risk for depression, anxiety, high blood pressure, and even heart disease.
When it comes to your home's efficiency and reducing financial burdens, solar panels are a great investment. Yes, there are upfront costs to consider, but most homeowners don't realize just how many incentives, tax credits, and rebates are available to them.
In fact, there's an aggressive Federal Investment Tax Credit (ITC) that rewards those who purchase a renewable energy system outright by allowing them to deduct a whopping 26 percent of the cost of installing solar panels from their federal taxes. Pair that with a state-specific incentive, short payback period, and reduced electricity bills, and it's no wonder so many homeowners are getting solar panel quotes.
Energy efficiency and quality of life are closely intertwined, so let's recap some important points. Pollutants, poor air quality, and high energy consumption levels can lead to:
- Eye irritation
- Allergic reactions
- Stress due to financial strain
- And more
The health benefits of energy efficiency include:
- Cleaner air
- Reduced risk of illness
- Lowered risk of asthma attacks
- Less financial strain
The benefits of energy conservation and efficiency seem to be endless; increased property value, enhanced quality of life, and money saved are just a few of the many perks!
Increase Your Home's Energy Efficiency
Ready to not just help the environment but your health and overall well-being? Pay attention to your home's ventilation systems, check up on insulation, retrofit as needed, and get a few local quotes for solar panel installation with help from EnergyBillCruncher. Your health will thank you for it!