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Connecting CO Health Outcomes to Climate Solutions, Lower Utility Bills


Tuesday, November 29, 2022   

A successful program that helps low-income households weatherize homes and lower energy bills is setting its sights on improving the health outcomes of children and older Coloradans at risk of indoor and outdoor air pollution.

Ashley Feiertag, director of residential programs for Energy Outreach Colorado, spearheaded its Healthy Homes program, which recently won a $1-million dollar grant. She said the goal is to remove barriers for vulnerable households to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions, improve indoor air quality, and reduce unsafe exposure to pollutants.

"In doing this we will help alleviate future health-care costs," she said. "We're also getting people signed up for community solar gardens. Those community solar credits help offset their utility bill."

Healthy Homes was one of three recipients of the ICLEI USA Action Fund, made possible through funding from Google, which aims to support innovative urban-based efforts to accelerate climate action through projects that are data-driven, highly replicable and impactful.

Feiertag said participating households will receive a thorough inspection of their home's energy efficiency, and experts will identify any sources of air pollution that can contribute to respiratory and other illness. In addition to adding harmful particulates to indoor air, appliances fueled by natural gas - including water heaters, furnaces, stoves and dryers - also contribute to climate pollution.

"So we're looking at replacing those with heat pump water heaters, air-sourced heat pumps, mini-split systems, induction stoves and electric dryers," Feiertag said.

Healthy homes has partnered with the City of Denver and area hospitals to identify those most in need of help. Feiertag hopes health-care providers will be able to write a prescription for these services for patients who are suffering from respiratory conditions, especially for families living in the shadow of highways, refineries and other persistent sources of air pollution.

"So if a person is experiencing asthma due to environmental factors, we will absolutely look at supplying them with a portable air cleaner," she said.

Disclosure: Energy Outreach Colorado contributes to our fund for reporting on Energy Policy. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.

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