Health & Financial Costs
Far too many American homes don’t meet basic healthy homes principles – dry, clean, ventilated, free from pests and contaminants, well-maintained and safe. This costs our country billions of dollars annually in housing-related healthcare costs for asthma, lead-based paint poisoning and injury, as well as lost productivity in the labor force.
Besides the physical health toll an at-risk home can have on its inhabitants (thousands of unnecessary emergency visits annually due to housing related accidents and illness), the monetary costs of unhealthy homes are enormous.
In addition to the significant negative health outcomes due to excess heat and cold, improving energy-efficiency provides much needed financial relief to low-income families better allowing them to meet basic needs such rent or mortgage payments and on-going standard property maintenance.
The housing problems outlined above, however, are not insurmountable. Weather sealing improvements may help keep inhabitants’ energy costs down, but if the quality of the air that is sealed inside is poor, or if the inhabitants are exposed to lead hazards during the weatherization process, health will suffer.
There are many low-cost green interventions that can be performed to enhance comfort and reduce utility costs for residents. Some interventions, such as filling in holes that harbor rodents as part of an integrated pest management strategy, not only make the unit healthier for residents but also enhance the structural integrity of the property, making it more energy efficient to heat and cool.