October 30, 2019
Every year, the RPC brings a higher level of safety and energy efficiency to dozens of homes in Champaign County through our Weatherization program. Even more important for the at-risk, low-income residents of these homes, however, are the health benefits that come with Weatherization, which decrease doctors’ visits and improve health outcomes relating to respiratory and other health issues.
Although Weatherization saves low-income families an average of $283 per year in energy costs and reduces heating bills by an average of 30% in cold weather states, it’s the improved overall health of clients whose homes are made more livable where societal benefits are seen even more.
“We dedicate ourselves to services that make a big difference in the daily lives of low-income families in our community,” says Mike Hunter, the RPC’s Weatherization Coordinator. “While helping them save hundreds of dollars annually on their energy bills is obviously important to their quality of life, it’s the health benefits the program provides where Weatherization has such a big impact in Champaign County and around the country.”
According to the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Weatherization can help reduce problems associated with:
- Asthma – Along with fewer ER visits and a 65% reduction in the mean number of hospitalizations for asthma patients, there has been a decline in annual Medicaid costs per year and fewer Medicaid claims for recipients of Weatherization services.
- Allergies – Fewer sinus infections and allergy and cold symptoms are observed in household members after Weatherization services.
- Hypertension – Less hypertension is reported by Weatherization recipients.
- Mental Health – A 48% reduction in the number of days recipients reported poor mental and physical health are seen in the month after Weatherization services.
- Less Hospital Visits and Days of Work and School Missed – Along with a net decrease in days absent from work, and fewer missed days of school by children in the household, Weatherization services lead to fewer hospital visits for individuals with asthma or COPD.
Families who receive Weatherization services save an average of $514 in out-of-pocket medical expenses, creating even more usable income they can devote to living expenses to improve their lives.
“Weatherization helps elderly persons, disabled persons, and families with children right here in Champaign County,” Hunter comments. “We are helping them not only save money and live in safer homes, but also contributing to their overall health and a brighter future, which demonstrates the vital importance of this program and its continued funding.”
The RPC’s Weatherization services include insulating walls, floors, perimeters, and attics; furnace work, including replacing existing low-efficiency furnaces or cleaning and tuning higher-efficiency furnaces; and air sealing. Weatherization Specialists ensure that all homes weatherized meet ASHRAE (American Society of Heath, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers) whole-house ventilation standards.