Rick Nevin
An Energy Efficient Healthy Home Strategy
    The Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) often uses duct sealing and high density insulation methods, that also reduce excess air infiltration, to reduce home energy costs.  Combining lead safe window replacement with high density insulation and duct sealing can reduce home energy bills by 50% or more.  This integrated Energy Efficient Healthy Home upgrade could yield additional public health benefits because dust mites, mold, cockroaches, and other allergens in housing are triggers for asthma, and the specialized cleanup required to remove lead dust hazards is similar to cleanup methods used to reduce allergens in dust.  High-density wall insulation can also reduce moisture infiltration and other allergen recontamination risk after cleanup by filling wall cavities vulnerable to rodent and roach infestation.  Leaking air ducts that reduce energy efficiency can also cause moisture problems associated with mold-induced illness and indoor air pollution.

    WAP research has shown that occupants of properly weatherized homes report a lower incidence of colds, flu, allergies, headaches, and nausea, while a control group showed no change over the same period.  Some of these benefits may be directly related to energy efficiency improvements that reduce drafts and improve temperature consistency, but the WAP also routinely repairs combustion equipment and exhaust ventilation systems to reduce the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning and other health hazards, and seals leaking air ducts that can cause mold-induced illness and the distribution of indoor air pollution throughout a home.  The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency also promotes ENERGY STAR duct sealing specifications to increase energy efficiency and to improve indoor air quality.

    The Energy Efficient Healthy Home strategy builds on weatherization, lead hazard reduction, and other housing research to promote a whole-house approach to energy, home value, and health.  This whole-house strategy also yields additional savings when heating and air conditioning (AC) equipment are replaced because improved structural efficiency reduces the size and cost of AC and heating equipment needed.

Next: A Public-Private Partnership Strategy
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