Reality check

6 out of 10 homes and buildings are hazardous to human health.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

Unhealthy homes can cause:

  • Mild symptoms: congestion, wheezing, chill, or skin irritation
  • Acute conditions: more severe colds, hypertension, mental stress or frequent visits to the emergency department
  • Chronic conditions: allergies and illnesses such as asthma, COPD

The good news: energy efficiency improves indoor health

Enhanced energy efficiency upgrades have been shown to reduce indoor air contaminants linked to chronic illnesses, control environmental contaminants (dust mites, mold/moisture) that can trigger respiratory symptoms, and improve symptoms of asthma and other respiratory health conditions.

U.S. Department of Energy (source)

When you improve a home’s energy efficiency and indoor air quality, you can reduce heating and cooling costs, save energy, and improve occupants’ health and comfort levels. Whether through small actions like closing curtains or big upgrades like weatherizing your home or business, energy efficiency not only lowers bills—it improves your health. Read below for tips on controlling the top 7 health-related building culprits.

Problem 1: Dust

The quick fix: buy a HEPA vacuum and use it often. Dust with a wet cloth. Use kitchen and bathroom fans daily.

The long-term solution: seal air leaks in basement, walls and attic, remove carpets and add adequate ventilation to circulate filtered fresh air.

Problem 2: Mold

The quick fix: remove any visible mold with mild soap, and buy a dehumidifier .

The long-term solution: add bathroom and kitchen exhaust fans, or whole-house ventilation.

Problem 3: Pests

The quick fix: use green pest control products like gels or closed bait traps; release any live-caught mice at least 10 miles from home.

The long-term solution: air seal cracks and openings in your home. Include rodent screens if mice are a problem.

Problem 4: Synthetic Cleaners & Products

The quick fix: clean often using natural ingredients like vinegar, lemon, and baking soda. Avoid synthetic chemicals when buying cleaning supplies, fabrics or furniture.

The long-term solution: install GREENGUARD certified smooth flooring and add adequate ventilation.

Problem 5: Contaminants

The quick fix: for pre-1978 houses, use a wet-cleaning approach and keep paint maintained to avoid lead exposure. Request a free radon test kit from the Vermont Department of Health. If you have a well, get your water tested regularly.

The long-term solution: add adequate ventilation. If needed, install a radon removal system, hire a certified contractor to safely remove asbestos and provide lead-safe repairs, and filter your drinking water. Have all gas appliances tested for combustion safety and convert to electric when replacing.

Problem 6: Physical Hazards

The quick fix: store poisons out of reach from children and vulnerable adults and properly label. Secure loose rugs, tall furniture and power cords, and provide adequate lighting. Install and regularly test smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and keep a fire extinguisher handy.

The long-term solution: provide secure handrails, keep your home well-maintained and perform regular safety checks.

Problem 7: Low or High Indoor Temps

The quick fix: close curtains or blinds at night in the winter and on very hot days in the summer. Install door draft stoppers and hand caulk or weather-strip obvious holes or cracks in walls or windows.

The long-term solution: weatherize your home and install an energy efficient heating, ventilation and cooling system.

The benefits of efficiency

Taking on energy efficiency projects lowers your energy bills and boosts comfort for your family in a safe and healthy way. We offer cash back on weatherization projects and efficient products that lead to a healthier home, access to trusted contractors in the Efficiency Excellence Network, and technical support for homeowners taking on projects on their own.

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