Showing posts tagged with Energy Efficiency:

Non-Energy Benefits of Energy Efficiency and Weatherization Programs in Multifamily Housing: the Clean Power Plan and Policy Implications

This paper was first presented at the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy’s (ACEEE’s) 2016 Summer Study on Energy Efficiency in Buildings. It was presented as part of the ‘Resilient, Sustainable Communities’ panel that examined how energy analysis at the community scale can contribute to better decisions about urban infrastructure and communities. The 2016 Summer Study was the 19th biennial ACEEE conference on Energy Efficiency in Buildings, bringing together a diverse group of professionals from around the world to discuss actions to reduce energy use and the climate impacts associated with buildings.

Across the US, there is a significant shortage of safe, healthy, energy efficient and affordable housing options for low-income residents. Many families face two mutually reinforcing problems: lack of affordable housing and lack of quality housing. Furthermore, many of the government programs intended to alleviate energy and housing burdens are siloed, fragmented and increasingly cash-strapped. Pairing weatherization and energy efficiency programs with healthy homes interventions can amplify non-energy benefits of these investments, effectively address social determinants of health, and generate greater returns on investments. The opportunity to increase non-energy benefits is particularly strong in multifamily housing facilities. At the individual level, occupants of multifamily homes experience improvements in health, comfort, and financial stability. Building owners see lower operation and maintenance costs, increased asset values, and decreased vacancy. Benefits also accrue at the community level in terms of both immediate improvements in environmental quality and the economic benefits related to job creation. Through a review of the literature from 2000–2015, this paper identifies and explores how home-based energy efficiency and health interventions can confer positive economic, health and environmental non-energy benefits at the individual and community level, thereby leading to significant savings while improving the quality of life and resiliency of low income households. The paper closes with policy recommendations that leverage the Clean Power Plan and the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) to unlock the broader savings of non-energy benefits that arise from smart energy efficient investments.


Join Us in the Call for Climate Action

There is an undeniable need to take meaningful action to combat climate change. To date, there are no federal limits on how much carbon pollution existing power plants can dump into the air. Carbon pollution causes climate change and a host of extreme threats to public health.

This is why the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)'s Clean Power Plan, which is days away from finalization, is so vital. It sets the first ever federal limits on carbon pollution from existing power plants, invests in clean, renewable energy and boosts cost-saving energy efficiency. EPA's plan would prevent thousands of asthma attacks, deaths, heart attacks and general hospital admissions every year.
Making buildings more energy efficient is the least expensive way to meet pollution reduction targets under the new standards. Efficiency investments in housing not only produce substantial energy savings but lead to better health and more disposable income for residents, and create jobs for local communities. Energy efficiency is one of the eight elements of a healthy home.
The plan is estimated to provide up to $93 billion in climate and public health benefits. The EPA projects that the new standards could help avoid up to 6,600 premature deaths and up to 150,000 asthma attacks in children annually by 2030. It will also help prevent thousands of heart attacks, hospital admissions, and missed work and school days every year.
Climate change is not a future generation's problem. It affects our communities and our health each and every day, and we need to take advantage of the opportunity presented by the EPA to solve it. We urge congress to make the call for climate change now.
To show your support for investments in energy efficiency, sign on to ramp up resources for energy efficiency in affordable multifamily housing.


11 Ways to Stay Warm and Save Energy this Winter

As much of the country is experiencing a colder than average winter, energy bills are rising. For many, this significant drop in temperature also results in colder homes. To help keep your home warm and your energy expenses down, follow these 11 DIY tips for a warmer, more energy efficient home.
1. Stop the drafts. Do you feel a draft near exterior doors? Apply weather-stripping along the frame and door sweep on the bottom of the door to keep cold air from getting in and warm air from getting out.
2. Seal the cracks. Inspect the exterior of your home and search for any cracks or holes in the foundation and siding. Not only are cracks an entryway for pests, it’s also another way cold air is entering your home. Be especially observant for cracks on window and door frames. Use weather-resistant caulk to fill in cracks.
3. Lock your windows. Locking your windows will ensure that they are as tightly closed as possible. Still feel a draft? Apply weather-stripping and seal cracks and holes.
4. Use the sun. When the sun is shining, open your blinds and curtains to allow sunlight in to naturally heat the room. When the sun is not shining, shut your blinds and curtains to contain any draft you may feel from the cold glass.
5. Program your thermostat. If you have a programmable thermostat, use it! Set the thermostat to as low a temperature as is comfortable when you are active in the home. When you are away or asleep, set the thermostat 10 to 15 degrees lower. Never set your thermostat below 55 degrees to prevent your pipes from freezing.
6. Insulate your attic. Use a non-combustible foam sealant to close any gaps and cracks, especially around pipes and chimneys. Use flexible caulk around any electrical boxes. Install weather-stripping to ensure the attic door or hatch closes completely. Use this chart to determine the insulation R value recommended for your area. Make sure the insulation covers the entire floor without blocking the attic vents. Complete the same upgrades to your crawl space.
7. Tune your furnace. Just like cars, your furnace needs an annual tune-up. A tune-up increases the efficiency of the furnace, ensuring maximum value and impact. Replace the filter each month to ensure warm, clean air is circulating efficiently.
8. Wrap the water tank. Is your water tank warm to the touch? If so, it is not properly insulated and uses more energy to keep the water warm. Water heater insulation blankets are available at your local hardware store for about $20.
9. Invest in the little things. There are several changes you can make around your home for a minimal investment and high return. Replace incandescent lightbulbs with compact fluorescents or LEDs; install low flow shower heads and faucet aerators; use surge protectors for electronics and turn off the base when not in use.
10. Dig Deep. If you haven’t noticed an improvement in your energy bills or have trouble maintaining a comfortable temperature in your home, hire a professional to conduct an energy audit. An energy auditor will be able to determine exactly where air is entering the home and what additional steps need to be taken. For free, rebated or discounted energy audits, contact your energy provider or local housing department.
11. Make it Healthy. Before weatherizing your home, make sure your home and the air you breathe inside it is healthy. Take GHHI’s quiz to evaluate your home’s health and learn how to maintain it with GHHI’s 8 elements of healthy home.

Case Study: From the Hospital to Perfect School Attendance

William and Danielle have owned their 1920 single family home in Baltimore’s Winston-Govans neighborhood for nine years. They needed to repair the home for the safety of their three children, 16-year-old Ciera, 12-year-old Simone and 10-year-old Akil, but the cost was overwhelming. Several windows were painted shut, mice left droppings in the kitchen and poor insulation made it hard to keep the home warm in the winter. These issues contributed to Akil’s health—he was regularly hospitalized for severe asthma episodes, going to the hospital three times a year for a week at a time, since his birth. Danielle reached out for help online and found the Green & Healthy Homes Initiative (GHHI).
Read full success story.

Energy Efficiency’s Non-Energy Benefits

I participated on an informative and engaging webinar panel last week on the non-energy benefits of energy efficiency. Structured like an old-fashioned salon, we reviewed and discussed current non-energy benefit research studies. This is the first webinar in a monthly series, hosted and facilitated by Elevate Energy’s and the National Housing Trust’s National Research Work Group.
As we have discovered in our intervention work with GHHI, the research discussed on the webinar also revealed that investing in energy efficiency results in more than saving energy and money; it also boosts health and safety for residents and in turn strengthens communities. Take a look at our recent success stories to see the non-energy benefits our families are reaping.
Below are links to the studies discussed. 
Keeping Warm and Staying Well. Does Home Energy Efficiency Mediate the Relationship between Socio-economic Status and the Risk of Poorer Health?
Read if you’re interested in relationships between home energy efficiency, socio‐economic status and resident health. Study reveals that energy inefficiency has a direct impact on health.
Non-Energy Benefits from the Weatherization Assistance Program: A Summary of Findings from the Recent LiteratureRead if you’re interested in a comprehensive analysis of national Low‐Income Weatherization Assistance Program’s Non‐Energy Benefits that identifies 15 non‐energy benefits down by ratepayers, utilities, low‐income households and overall societal benefits.
Healthy Energy-Efficient Housing: Using a One-Touch Approach to Maximize Public Health, Energy, and Housing Programs and PoliciesRead if you’re interested in making the case for health benefits from energy efficiency upgrades. This study advocates for streamlining energy efficiency and healthy housing rehab programs and details the health and monetary benefits of weatherization rehabs.
Housing and health: does installing heating in their homes improve the health of children with asthma?Read if you’re interested in learning how reducing dampness via energy efficiency upgrades reduces all respiratory symptoms. Study reveals reductions in school absenteeism due to energy efficiency and IAQ upgrades.
The Role of Emerging Energy-Efficient Technology in Promoting Workplace Productivity and Health: Final ReportRead if you’re interested in an organized compendium of research findings in the indoor health and productivity area for scientists and building professionals, and want to learn about the connection between improved Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) and decreases in work absenteeism and health care costs.



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