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Minnesota Healthy Homes Program: Improving your home’s health through Energy Efficiency

Published February 19, 2020

Your home’s indoor environment and air quality can have a big impact on your health. Indoor pollutants like radon, mold, and chemicals from a variety of sources can result in unhealthy levels of pollutant sources if ventilation and moisture are not carefully managed. By adopting energy efficiency measures, you not only help reduce heating and cooling costs but save energy while improving your health and comfort levels. Healthy Homes Minnesota is a program aimed at addressing this connection between energy efficiency and healthy homes.

The Healthy Homes Program

The Healthy Homes Program is an effort by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Office of Healthy Homes and Lead Hazard Control to promote healthier and safer housing across the nation. The Office of Lead Hazard Control and Healthy Homes (OLHCHH) provides funds to state and local governments to develop effective ways to reduce lead-based paint hazards. In addition to these efforts, the office provides public outreach and technical assistance to help protect families from other health and safety hazards in the home including mold, lead, allergens, asthma, carbon monoxide, pesticides and, radon.

Why healthy homes matter

Unhealthy housing impacts health and can be costly. Numerous research studies show that housing-related hazards such as indoor biological contamination (such as the presence of mold, pests, and bacteria), indoor chemical contamination (such as lead, carbon monoxide, and radon) and structural and safety deficiencies (due to inadequate design which can result in injuries and illness) all pose a great threat to human health. 

Below are some key principles listed by the Healthy Homes program related to energy efficiency;

  • Keep your home well-ventilated. Ventilation is an important way to increase fresh air supply and improve respiratory health. Adequate ventilation can help minimize indoor pollutants, which can also be controlled with air cleaners.
  • Keep your home dry. Pests and mold can exacerbate asthma and contribute to other respiratory illnesses and allergies. Take a look at our recommendations for controlling moisture levels in your home. 
  • Keep it temperature controlled. Keeping your home temperature controlled can help prevent exposure to extreme cold or heat. 68 degrees is the recommended setting when you are home, and you can adjust it down when you are away or while sleeping. However, if 68 is too cold or warm incrementally adjust your thermostat by a degree or two at a time to find the best temperature for your household. 

If you are interested in understanding the health of your home the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has a free app, called the Healthy Homes Basics app, that offers practical steps and detailed information on how to have a safe and healthy home.  

However, if you have more concerns about the health of your home visit the Minnesota Department of Health website for resources and guidelines that address several concerns related to your home’s health. Some local governments (city or county) have programs to help with addressing some of these issues.  For example, there are programs to help replace windows to address concerns with lead. The Minnesota Department of Health also has a list of Healthy Homes contacts you can contact to help address specific concerns. For an example of how a Healthy program operates take a look at the Healthy Homes program in Duluth.

While CUB does not specialize in health we are happy to provide tips and resources to increase energy efficiency in your home. Check out our tips on energy efficiency to save energy and money and improve the comfort of your home. If you would like more customized suggestions to increase energy efficiency please contact CUB for a free one-on-one bill consultation.

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Author: Inonge Mubita

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