Who wouldn’t want an energy-efficient home?
Reducing waste from old, drafty windows, poorly insulated attics and energy-guzzling, ancient appliances can save homeowners a pretty penny over the years.
But a new study conducted in the United Kingdom shows some cost-saving measures also may increase the risk of asthma for adults living in energy-efficient dwellings.
The U-K study focused on adults living in affordable housing communities, and the homes’ scores of energy efficiency. The results showed that residents in homes with better ratings were more likely to suffer from asthma than those with worse scores.
The researchers initially thought mold might be more prevalent in energy-efficient homes, because such homes trap air and moisture better than drafty ones.
In the homes of some asthma sufferers, signs of mold were present. But others showed no signs and the researchers actually found mold generally was less of a problem in higher-efficiency homes.
The researchers say the quality of air inside the asthma sufferers’ homes may be reduced in other ways, thanks in part to energy-efficiency building practices and modifications.
For example, they note that stale air trapped inside a home may accumulate allergens or non-mold microorganisms. If a sufficient amount of new air doesn’t circulate into the home, the people inside will be breathing this trapped air constantly. That seems like it certainly would be enough to cause respiratory problems.
But life in an energy-conscious home can be healthier, with proper ventilation.
As energy-efficient building practices become more commonplace, understanding their health implications should be a key public health effort. Learning to properly maintain an energy-efficient home might be the ticket to lower energy bills and a clean bill of respiratory health.