Switching to LED bulbs and taking other energy-saving actions can reduce energy bills and be good for the environment. But energy-efficient measures, especially in multifamily housing, may have some other, more significant benefits, according to a recent blog from the Natural Resource Defense Council.
Providing energy-efficient solutions to low-income housing could improve the health of residents of those buildings, according to the blog.
The blog also cited research and some startling facts about energy consumption and its relationship to income. A few examples:
*Low-income households pay proportionally more than the average household for energy costs. For example, households in Atlanta pay 10.2 percent of household income on utilities—double the amount higher-income households pay.
*Atlanta has the fourth largest energy burden in the nation but programs such as the Georgia Power’s Energy Assessment and Solutions is helping ease the energy burden.
*Energy-efficient solutions can specifically improve the health of residents with asthma and heat or cold-related illnesses.
*Some low-income housing residents may sacrifice needs such as healthy food and healthcare to pay energy bills.
*Buildings constructed before 1980 tend to be less energy efficient and are often in most need of energy efficiency upgrades.
*Non-profit organizations are working with the private sector and government offices to provide energy efficiency solutions to those who live in low-income housing. For example, Southface, an Atlanta-based non-profit organization devoted to sustainable development, assists property owners of low-income housing secure grants for energy-efficient upgrades.