INDEPENDENT NEWS

Good energy decisions are good for health

Published: Tue 7 Nov 2006 02:52 PM
Good energy decisions are good for health
Good health and environmental well-being go hand in hand. Energy efficiency through good design and extra insulation means lower power bills, better health and reduced emissions of greenhouse gases.
The potential for New Zealand to use energy more efficiently is largely untapped. Unlocking this potential could produce significant economic and environmental benefits, and help to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases.
Making New Zealand homes more energy efficient would also improve public health and lower people’s power bills, a PCE study has concluded.
Poorly designed homes are forcing people to spend more money to keep their homes dry, warm and comfortable. People who cannot afford to do thiswith less money are using cheap but harmful heating options such as unflued gas heaters, or living in cold damp houses.
These findings are contained in Healthy, Wwealthy and Wwise, a PCE report prepared in association with public health specialists Quigley and Watts. The report is a Health Impact Assessment (HIA) of energy that looks at how energy decisions might impact on the health and well-being of people and communities.
Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment Dr Morgan Williams says cold, damp, often poorly insulated homes are leading to more doctor and hospital visits to treat colds and other respiratory illnesses, especially for children and the elderly.
“This places unnecessary pressure on the health system. Rather than waiting until people get sick, it would be more prudent – and more sustainable - to keep people healthy, wealthy and wise by focusing more on prevention through energy-efficient homes.”
The PCE report recommends that:
the Building Code be significantly strengthened so that new homes are designed and built to be much more energy efficient.
building designers and tradespeople need to have the expertise and the incentives to help people make smart energy-efficient choices in their homes.
greater effort needs to go into retrofitting older houses so that people living in them can afford to be warm, dry and comfortable. Agencies such as the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA) should be given substantially more funding to encourage this.
Unflued gas heaters are unhealthy and should be banned. People who already have them should be offered incentives to switch to healthier alternatives.
Healthy Wealthy and Wise flows out of another PCE report, Future Currents, which the PCE released last year. That report investigated two possible future energy scenarios for New Zealand. One was based on a business-as-usual pathway, and the other on greater investment in renewables and energy efficiency.
Healthy Wwealthy and Wwise flows out of another PCE report, Future Currents, which the PCE released last year. That report investigatedexplored two possible future energy scenarios for New Zealand. One was based on a business-as-usual pathway, and the other on greater investment in renewables and energy efficiency.
This latest report shows tWhat choosing a more renewable and energy efficient path would have not only enduringan economic benefitsimpact, but also a strong positive impact on the health and well-being of people and communities.
“Energy is clearly vital to the economy and to the smooth running of society, but it can be produced, delivered and used in ways that promote rather than damage health,” says Dr Williams.
ends

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