When It Comes to Energy Efficiency, Health and Environment Are Bigger Motivators Than Saving Money

The National Academy of Sciences published a report yesterday that found that messages about the environment and health motivate people to save energy more than messages about saving money.

Fortunately, consumers don’t have to choose between the two because saving energy results in environmental and health benefits AND saves money!

The National Academy of Sciences study found that “environment and health-based messages, which communicate the environmental and public health externalities of electricity production– such as pounds of pollutants, childhood asthma, and cancer–motivated 8% energy savings versus the control.” The environmental and health messages resonated most, the study found, with families with children, “who achieved up to 19% energy savings.”

Given this finding, the EPA’s Clean Power Plan, as we have written about in the past, should receive a warm welcome from families across the country, as it is estimated that the Clean Power Plan will have health and climate benefits worth $55 – 93 billion per year in 2030.  The American Lung Association of the Southeast echoed these sentiments in their October board meeting, stating that actions that cut carbon pollution to meet the goals of the Clean Power Plan would prevent 100,000 asthma attacks in children in 2020 and 150,000 in 2030.

Further, the American Academy of Pediatrics, American Heart Association, American Lung Association, American Public Health Society, American Thoracic Society, Center for Climate Change and Health, Health Care Climate Council, Health Care Without Harm, Public Health Institute, and the Trust for America’s Health all submitted comments in support of the EPA’s Clean Power Plan. These healthcare professionals state, “To protect our communities and the public, the United States must significantly reduce carbon pollution from the largest source, which are existing power plants.”

Strangely, in the face of consumers reducing energy after learning about the health benefits of energy efficiency and healthcare professionals agreeing that to protect health, the United States needs to reduce carbon pollution, our legislators and our Southeastern electric utilities are attempting to roll back this important policy. In particular, state senators in Missouri and Virginia have introduced legislation to hinder or prevent their states from crafting a plan to comply with the EPA’s regulations. Worse, in Kentucky, the legislature already passed a law that will prevent the use of energy efficiency in the state’s compliance plan. One would think the leaders of our country would see that their constituents still want access to clean air.

For even more information on the health benefits of reducing carbon dioxide, see the Lawrence Berkeley Lab’s 2014 report quantifying the health benefits of reducing GHGs, and check back here for more information about how your policymakers and electric utilities respond to the EPA’s Clean Power Plan.

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