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Saturday, May 18, 2024
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UW-Madison researchers find that something as simple as turning off a light could save a life in new energy conservation study. 

New study shows turning off the lights could save a life

A team of UW-Madison researchers released new data that shows saving energy, even by simply turning off a light switch, can save consumers’ lives.  

The team’s study, which was recently released in the journal Environmental Science & Technology, correlated reduced energy consumption to improved public health through decreased save lives by decreasing the adverse health effects attributed to air pollution.

Consumers are frequently exposed to air pollution including ozone and fine particulate matter from power plants. This exposure contributes to yearly cases of respiratory diseases and asthma attacks. 

The study said that rising temperatures cause more air conditioning use, which increases electricity demand, which leads to increased power plant emissions. 

“For the most part, the energy community is not focused on the human health effects of air pollution,” said Tracey Holloway, a researcher on the team, in a statement to UW-Madison officials. “We’re trying to clarify how changes in energy systems have benefits for public health.” 

The study ran for three summer months and calculated power plant emissions, air quality and human mortality to analyze the impact of consumers energy conservation. 

The team found that a 12 percent increase in summertime energy efficiency would reduce consumers’ exposure to air pollution, which could save 475 human lives each year in the United States. 

Holloway said the goal of the research is to provide consumers and policymakers with insights into how conserving energy can save money and improve human health outcomes. 

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