Energy insecure New Yorkers face multiple health risks

October 05, 2018

Nearly one-third of Washington Heights residents surveyed report problems with lack of heat in the winter and/or paying their electric bills. The study by researchers at Columbia Mailman School of Public Health found these energy insecure New Yorkers were more likely to have breathing problems, mental health issues, and poor sleep.

Researchers analyzed data collected as part of the Washington Heights Community Survey conducted at the behest of NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital. The telephone-based survey of 2,494 households in English and Spanish in 2015 focused on socio-demographic characteristics, healthcare access, health risk behaviors, and current health status and medical conditions.

More than a quarter of respondents lived in energy insecure households with nearly 14 percent of their households meeting criteria for severe energy insecurity and nearly 13 percent meeting the criteria for moderate energy insecurity. Energy insecure households were more likely to have children under 18 years of age in residence and have a lower household income than energy secure households. Both black and Latino households had more than twice the odds of being threatened with energy shut-off for not paying bills after controlling for income compared to white households. Long-term "pre-gentrification" neighborhood residents were more likely to be energy insecure than recent arrivals.

Compared to energy secure households, severely energy insecure households had twice the odds of lifetime asthma, and nearly five times the odds of pneumonia in the past year. Similarly, the odds of depression for severely energy insecure households was nearly twice that of severely energy insecure households. The odds of poor-quality sleep for severely energy insecure households was 60 percent greater than energy secure households.

One in four higher-income respondents also reported experiencing energy insecurity. Periodic building-wide heat shutoffs are not uncommon for middle-class New Yorkers, particularly those living in older buildings, the researchers explain. In this context, solutions to energy insecurity should guard against the unintended consequences of energy efficiency upgrades that act to heighten housing disparities and fuel "green gentrification."

"Community-based energy programs that help low- and middle-income make their homes more energy efficient are badly needed, across New York City and nationwide," says Diana Hernández, PhD, lead author and associate professor of Sociomedical Sciences at Columbia Public Health. "Because households with children are particularly at risk for energy insecurity, energy efficiency and energy assistance programs should be supplemented by referrals to food-related aid such as free or reduced meals at schools to reduce the 'heat or eat' dilemma."
-end-
The paper is titled "Energy Insecurity and Its Ill Health Effects: A Community Perspective on the Energy-Health Nexus in New York City" and appears in the journal Energy Research & Social Science. Authors include Diana Hernández and Eva Siegel. The study was funded by NewYork-Presbyterian and administered through the Global Research Analytics for Population Health (GRAPH) team at Columbia Public Health. Additional support included a JPB Environmental Health Fellowship granted to Hernández and managed by the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and a grant from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (ES009089).

Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health

Related Energy Efficiency Articles from Brightsurf:

Customizable smart window technology could improve energy efficiency of buildings
Scientists combined solar cell technology with a novel optimization approach to develop a smart window prototype that maximizes design across a wide range of criteria.

Boosting energy efficiency of 2D material electronics using topological semimetal
SUTD researchers discover a new way to boost the energy efficiency of 2D semiconductor electronics by synergizing 2D materials and topological semimetals.

New 5G switch provides 50 times more energy efficiency than currently exists
As 5G hits the market, new US Army-funded research has developed a radio-frequency switch that is more than 50 times more energy efficient than what is used today.

Development of electrode material improving the efficiency of salinity gradient energy
Dr. Jeong Nam-Jo of Korea Institute of Energy Research(KIER) Marine Energy Convergence and Integration Research Team developed synthesis technologies of electrode material that can directly synthesize molybdenum disulfide thin films on the electrode current collector surface to contribute improving the efficiency and economic feasibility of salt gradient power generation using reverse electrodialysis.

Mandatory building energy audits alone do not overcome barriers to energy efficiency
A pioneering law may be insufficient to incentivize significant energy use reductions in residential and office buildings, a new study finds.

Towards a sustainable future -- Novel technology to measure energy conversion efficiency
Conversion of energy is a constant process but measuring the efficiency of this conversion is not an easy task.

How preprocessing methods affect the conversion efficiency of biomass energy production
Research on energy production from biomass usually focuses on the amount of energy generated.

Microgrids can help maximize efficiency of renewable energy consumption
A group of Italian researchers has developed a method that enables more efficient use of energy by smart homes that are connected to a microgrid -- a web of individualized units that are connected to one another and one common energy source.

Connection between home energy efficiency and respiratory health in low-income homes
A new study finds people living in drafty homes in low-income, urban communities are at a higher risk of respiratory health issues.

Merging antenna and electronics boosts energy and spectrum efficiency
By integrating the design of antenna and electronics, researchers have boosted the energy and spectrum efficiency for a new class of millimeter wave transmitters, allowing improved modulation and reduced generation of waste heat.

Read More: Energy Efficiency News and Energy Efficiency Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.