We all instinctively know that a home is intimately tied to the health and wellbeing of its residents. It is where people go to take care of themselves and seek comfort. People in the United States spend approximately 70% of their time at home, which means that ensuring homes are a healthy refuge is vitally important. Evidence in a new, groundbreaking DOE report, Home RX: The Health Benefits of Home Performance, shows that home performance upgrades can improve the quality of a home’s indoor environment by reducing the prevalence of harmful indoor air pollutants and contaminants.
Until recently no systematic review of this evidence had been conducted, limiting full understanding of the link between home performance and health. New research by the Energy Department sought to close this gap by documenting the full array of health benefits for homeowners and their families stemming from home performance improvements and green renovation practices. Ranging from general health improvements to measurable reductions in asthma symptoms and other respiratory illnesses, these benefits complement the energy cost savings and comfort improvements frequently produced by home performance upgrades. In some instances, the health benefits associated with home performance were shown to reduce both healthcare utilization and costs.
Home Performance and Health
Some of the home performance improvements considered in the report include those provided as part of the Energy Department’s Weatherization Assistance Program, such as air sealing, insulation, lighting, and adequate ventilation. Also considered were common green renovations as well as additional home performance upgrades supported by our Home Performance with ENERGY STAR program, including ventilation upgrades, moisture control, window replacements, and allergen-reduction repairs.
Research into the overlap of home performance and health is still nascent, and more research is necessary to build on and reinforce existing findings, but there is substantial evidence to support that well-designed and implemented home performance projects can result in real and valuable improvements to the indoor environment of a home, potentially yielding positive health benefits for homeowners and their families.
This paper is just one part of the Energy Department’s broader Health and Home Performance Initiative. This paper will serve to advance about the market for the health benefits of home performance, including how these benefits can be better articulated both within the home performance industry and in policy. The purpose of the Initiative is to support the energy efficiency industry’s engagement with the healthcare sector to find ways to account for the benefits of home performance work and to make it more accessible to populations of people who want and need these services. The next step for the Initiative will be to engage with stakeholders to develop a roadmap to facilitate industry’s incorporation of health benefits of home performance into their work. Workshops are slated for conferences in January, March, and May. To learn more about the Health and Home Performance Initiative, and to be involved in development of the roadmap, email homehealth@CSRA.com.
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Home Performance with ENERGY STAR
Boost your fall marketing campaign with help from EPA’s Rule Your Attic! campaign.
Temperatures are cooling and homeowners are noticing the drafts in their home. Reach those potential clients with the Rule Your Attic! campaign. All of the materials that you need to encourage homeowners to measure the insulation in their attic and to improve the energy efficiency are available from EPA! EPA created a toolkit specifically for contractors that do sealing and insulation. It includes graphics, flyers for homeowners, social media posts, and more!
It’s not just for contractors! EPA developed a second toolkit for Partners, Sponsors, and stakeholders to use too.
Home Performance with ENERGY STAR is excited to welcome Black Hills Arkansas, Enhabit (Portland, OR), Conservation Consultants, Inc. (Pittsburgh, PA), and Southern California Electric to the network. Now more homeowners across the country have access to the expert help associated with the trust and quality of ENERGY STAR.
The new partners have diverse plans for offering Home Performance with ENERGY STAR.
Black Hills Arkansas is partnership with an existing Sponsor – Southwestern Electric Power Company (SWEPCO) – to offer Home Performance with ENERGY STAR. These two utilities are teaming up to ensure that their customers save as much energy as possible. The Connecticut partnership of Eversource and United Illuminating to offer Home Performance with ENERGY STAR has been successful and we are excited to see another utility partnership.
We are continuing to explore the possibility of offering Home Performance with ENERGY STAR without public funds with Enhabit. Enhabit is a nonprofit offering energy efficiency services in Oregon. Without money from tax payers or rate payers, we are working to establish a market supported Home Performance with ENERGY STAR program.
In Pennsylvania we are teaming up with another nonprofit, Conservation Consultants, Inc.to try a unique approach to Home Performance with ENERGY STAR in the Midwest. This program will be established as a market based offering similar to Enhabit. However, we hope to expand the program into a hybrid by bringing on utilities across Pennsylvania.
California utilities are embracing Home Performance with ENERGY STAR. The latest to offer the program is Southern California Edison. They will be incorporating Home Performance with ENERGY STAR branding and offerings in to their existing California Home Upgrade Program and California Advanced Upgrade Program. Most programs will find that Home Performance with ENERGY STAR easily integrates with existing programs and enhances the offering with the ENERGY STAR brand.
The Home Performance with ENERGY STAR team is thrilled to bring these four new organizations in to the fold. We are looking forward to supporting their efforts to develop models that a replicable across the country.
In early October, The Building Performance Institute (BPI) announced the nationwide launch of the Healthy Home Evaluator (HHE) certification. This certification will help the nation's home performance, weatherization, and healthy housing workforce conduct assessments in homes to determine conditions that may adversely affect occupant health and safety.
In April 2016, BPI initiated a pilot phase of the HHE certification. During the pilot, which concluded on September 9th 2016, 335 BPI Certified Professionals took the HHE exam. The HHE builds on a prerequisite of one of three other BPI certifications: Building Analyst (BA), Energy Auditor (EA) or Quality Control Inspector (QCI). The HHE assesses the risk of key home-based health hazards including asthma triggers from dust, moisture and mold, Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), lead-based paint, asbestos, radon, carbon monoxide leaks, as well as potential fire hazards, trip and fall hazards and pest management issues.
Learn more about earning the credential on the BPI website.
Find Answers with Residential Program Solution Center
Whether you are looking to improve your current program or you are serving a new market, you can find tips for success from other programs, step-by-step guidance, and resources in the Residential Program Solution Center to help you design and implement your program. Building on six primary program components—Market Position & Business Model; Program Design & Customer Experience; Evaluation & Data Collection; Marketing & Outreach; Financing; and Contractor Engagement & Workforce Development—you can use the Residential Program Solution Center to identify resources and best practices to meet your program goals.
In the second quarter of 2016 Sponsors reported 17,705 Home Performance with ENERGY STAR projects. This was due in part to quarter-over-quarter growth from several of our Sponsors. Entergy New Orleans doubled production with 100% growth. D.C. Sustainable Energy Utility, Efficiency First California, and Greater Cincinnati Energy Alliance all reported more than 100% growth and Advanced Energy reported a whopping 291% growth.
We are eagerly anticipating the results from the Q3 reports. For the first time Connecticut will include projects from their low income program. For the last few months we worked with the utilities in Connecticut to ensure that their low income program meets Home Performance with ENERGY STAR requirements. Now that program has access to the tools and reputation that are associated with Home Performance with ENERGY STAR. We except this will add over 4,000 projects to the calendar year total. The are other expansions in the work with Sponsor across the country Looking for additional facts and stats.
The Updated Guidelines for Residential PACE Programs were just posted online. HPwES could be a complimentary part of the program design and offers many benefits, including consumer protections like certified contractor networks, whole-house oriented energy evaluations, and test in and test out on all projects. Check with your state or local jurisdiction about a PACE offering and share these guidelines.