Americans spend about 70% of their time inside their homes. It’s a sanctuary where you go to feel safe, protected, and comfortable. Unfortunately, there are many parts of a house — including your HVAC system, cleaning supplies, and building materials — that can actually be harmful to us.
Research shows, though, that building and retrofitting homes with green, energy-efficient materials and systems can boost your physical and mental health, and may help to reduce incidents of asthma, respiratory disease, depression, heart disease, and cancer.
Insulation, air sealing, and heating improvements: These are considered the basics for improving the health quality of your home. After having this work completed, your home is likely to be warmer and your power costs reduced. You’ll have less exposure to gases, air particles, and mold. They also help keep insects and other pests out of your home, reducing exposure to other hazardous allergens.
Health benefits: Leads to fewer cardiovascular issues, colds, sinus infections, and headaches, less stress and depression, and to generally feeling better more often.
Low-emission building materials: Look for products labeled no- or low-VOC to reduce the gases that are slowly but continually leaking into your home over a long period of time from a wide range of culprits.
Health benefits: Reduces respiratory issues, depression, headaches, and heart disease; may prevent incidents of certain cancers and damage to liver and kidneys.
Radon mitigation system: This colorless, odorless gas is released when uranium in soil or water decays. Radon decay produces radioactive particles that bond with dust, which can then be brought into your home and breathed in.
Health benefits: Radon exposure is the second leading cause of lung cancer after smoking, so it’s extremely important to test your home radon levels and address the issue if they are elevated.
Sealed combustion appliances: These appliances safely expel combustion by-products, relying on air pulled in from outdoors for combustion and emitting exhaust directly back outside. Conventional combustion systems use the air around them and expel exhaust back into your home.
Health benefits: Reduces risk of cancer, respiratory disease, and heart disease.
Whole house fan: While they are cooling your home, whole house fans also circulate fresh air and suck up pet dander, dust, and other particulates and expel them straight outside. They also help stabilize the temperature in your home, which can prevent mold from growing.
Health benefits: Reduces respiratory issues such as asthma, colds, and sinus infections; cardiovascular issues; and headaches.
Sources: Energy.gov | EPA | Energy Star | Minnesota Department of Health | My Bright Leaf Home