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Impact of Low-Income Home Energy-Efficiency Retrofits on Building Air Tightness and Healthy Home Indicators

1
Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Colorado Boulder, Boulder, CO 80309, USA
2
Department of Environmental and Occupational Health, University of Colorado, Colorado School of Public Health, Aurora, CO 80045, USA
3
Department of Geography and Division of Epidemiology, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH 43210, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Sustainability 2019, 11(9), 2667; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11092667
Received: 30 March 2019 / Revised: 2 May 2019 / Accepted: 4 May 2019 / Published: 10 May 2019
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Abstract

We studied 226 low-income households as a part of the Colorado Home Energy Efficiency and Respiratory Health (CHEER) study to investigate the relationship between energy-efficiency retrofits (EERs) specific to air sealing of residential building envelopes, annual average infiltration rates (AAIR), and qualitative indicators of “healthy” homes. Blower door tests quantified the leakage area in each home, which was used to estimate the AAIR. Walk-through inspections were used to record observations of air-sealing retrofits conducted as part of Colorado’s Weatherization Assistance Program and indirect indicators of poor indoor environmental quality (IEQ) in the homes, such as visible mold or stains, visible dust on hard surfaces, vapor condensation on windows, dampness, and perceived air quality. Results showed that building characteristics like age and volume affected AAIR more significantly than air-sealing EERs. Among the air-sealing EERs, homes with the air-handler ductwork sealed and windows weather-stripped were found to have significantly lower AAIR compared to the homes without these features. Mold growth, wall stains, notably higher levels of dust, and unacceptable odor levels were more frequently reported in homes with higher AAIR, showing that leakier homes do not necessarily have better IEQ. View Full-Text
Keywords: blower door test; weatherization; walk-through survey; infiltration; indoor environmental quality; leakage area blower door test; weatherization; walk-through survey; infiltration; indoor environmental quality; leakage area
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Shrestha, P.M.; Humphrey, J.L.; Barton, K.E.; Carlton, E.J.; Adgate, J.L.; Root, E.D.; Miller, S.L. Impact of Low-Income Home Energy-Efficiency Retrofits on Building Air Tightness and Healthy Home Indicators. Sustainability 2019, 11, 2667.

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