Turn off a light, save a life, says new study

phys.org | 3/20/2019 | Staff
Goobee (Posted by) Level 4
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We all know that turning off lights and buying energy-efficient appliances affects our financial bottom line. Now, according to a new study by University of Wisconsin-Madison researchers, we know that saving energy also saves lives and even more money for consumers by alleviating the costs of adverse health effects attributed to air pollution.

Writing this week in the journal Environmental Science & Technology, a team led by UW-Madison postdoctoral researcher David Abel tabulates both lives saved and cost benefits to consumers of improved health outcomes due to reduced energy consumption.

Electricity - Lives - Abel - Center - Sustainability

"By saving electricity, we can also save lives," says Abel, of the Center for Sustainability and the Global Environment in UW-Madison's Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies. "There is a range of health benefits. It's a bonus. We find there are extra health reasons to turn off a light."

Abel and his colleagues, including senior author Tracey Holloway, also of the Nelson Institute, deployed a suite of three widely used models to calculate power plant emissions, air quality and human mortality over a span of three summer months, when energy use is high. Their findings show that a 12 percent increase in summertime energy efficiency would reduce exposure to air pollution, specifically ozone and fine particulate matter. In short, cleaner air would save 475 human lives each year in the United States, worth an estimated $4 billion.

Translates - Cents - Hour - Energy - Incentive

That savings translates to almost 5 cents per kilowatt hour of energy used. That is a huge incentive, the Wisconsin team notes, given that electricity costs about 10 cents per kilowatt hour on average.

"We're trying to clarify how changes in energy systems have benefits for public health," explains Holloway, who is also a UW-Madison professor of atmospheric and oceanic sciences. "For the most part, the energy community is not focused on the human health effects of air...
(Excerpt) Read more at: phys.org
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