Energy efficiency not only provides savings on energy bills, but saves lives and costs through improved public health, according to a paper by UW researchers Air Quality-Related Health Benefits of Energy Efficiency in the United States, in American Chemical Society Publications. Their study quantified air emissions from power plants in the summer with mortality impacts, focusing on nitrous oxide (NOx), sulfur dioxide (SO2) and carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, along with fine particulate matter (PM2.5).
They concluded that a 12 percent increase in summertime energy efficiency would reduce exposure to air pollutants, especially fine particulates and ozone, which would save the lives of 475 Americans annually. These savings equate to almost 5 cents per kWh of energy used or $4 billion a year. The UW researchers would like their findings to inform both policymakers and the energy industry on the connections between energy efficiency, saving money, and improving human health and air quality. UW News