Energy smart home could even boost your health

As gas and electricity bills continue to skyrocket, more Aussies are looking for ways to cut their energy costs. An easy way to do this is by making your home more energy efficient. It makes sense. Draught proofing your house, adding insulation or swapping old lights for high efficiency LEDs can slash your energy bill. What most people don't realise is that when they make these improvements, they’ll almost certainly end up with a more comfortable home, which may improve their long-term health as well.

Study after study has found energy efficient buildings equal healthier occupants.

According to the International Energy Agency, that’s because when you upgrade a home's energy efficiency attributes like air quality and thermal comfort also improve. (Thermal comfort just means your home maintains a comfortable temperature, instead of feeling too hot or too cold).

In winter, better energy efficiency results in fewer deaths caused by extended exposure to cold temperatures. In summer, fewer people die of complications associated with dehydration.

A study in The Lancet – one of the world's foremost medical journals – found that 6.5 per cent of deaths in Australia (2400 per year) are linked to colder weather. In Sweden, which has a much colder climate than Australia, only 3.9 per cent of deaths are linked to cold weather.

Experts believe the relatively poor quality of Australia’s housing is to blame. Sweden has better, more efficient buildings – so while it’s colder outside, Swedes are more comfortable indoors than we are.

The research is sobering. The good news is we can all do something about it. Sure, working with an expert to improve your home’s energy efficiency will save you money. Done right, you'll also end up with a more comfortable, healthier home.

Luke Menzel is chief executive officer of the Energy Efficiency Council.