There are numerous health benefits and cost savings associated with reduced energy consumption, showed a team from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Postdoctoral researcher David Abel and colleagues deployed a suite of three widely used models to calculate power plant emissions, air quality, and human mortality over a span of three summer months, when energy use is high. They found that a 12% increase in summertime energy efficiency would reduce exposure to air pollution, specifically ozone and fine particulate matter. In other words, cleaner air would save 475 human lives each year in the U.S., worth an estimated $4 billion. That savings translates to almost 5 cents per kilowatt hour of energy used (on average, electricity costs about 10 cents per kilowatt hour).
By demonstrating the savings and how to accurately gauge the value of lives saved and associated reduced health care costs, the researchers hope to provide policymakers and the energy industry with a road map for assessing the human health benefits of reducing energy use.