Research from Columbia, Maryland’s National Center for Healthy Housing suggests that adding insulation and more efficient heating systems can significantly increase the health of household residents. The researchers studied 248 households in New York City, Boston and Chicago that underwent energy conservation improvements by trained energy efficiency professionals, including installing insulation and heating equipment and improving ventilation. After the improvements, subjects reported reductions in sinusitis (5 percent), hypertension (14 percent) and obesity (11 percent).
Although a 20 percent reduction in asthma medication use was reported, two measures of asthma severity worsened; the scientists called for further study of the asthma-related outcomes.
A similar study from New Zealand’s University of Otago examined 409 households that installed energy-efficient heating systems. Children in these homes experienced fewer illnesses, better sleep, better allergy and wheezing symptoms and fewer overall sick days. In examining 1,350 older homes where insulation was installed, the research also found improvements in health among family residents.