For more than twenty years, Energy Star labels have helped us identify the most energy efficient appliances and products on the market. In that time, families and businesses have realized an estimated savings of more than $230 billion on utility bills and prevented more than 1.8 billion metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions. The program is definitely working.

Now Alan Meier of Home Energy Magazine proposes a holistic version of the label geared toward our aging population: Elder Star. It would combine some of the specifications of Energy Star with the principles of Universal Design and maybe even the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Controlling costs, improving safety, and adding peace of mind makes for a tall order, but the home performance industry is up for it. We’re already used to looking at each home as a system, and we already evaluate homeowner needs before making recommendations.  The bottom line is that energy efficiency makes aging in place comfortable, affordable, and possible. Here’s how:

Energy efficiency controls costs for fixed-income budgets.
Most homes – even those built fairly recently – are more expensive to heat and cool than they should be.  Cold air leaks in around doors and windows and through the small cracks that, in most homes, add up to the equivalent of an open window.  These leaks lead to cold floors, uneven temperatures, and high heating costs.  Energy efficiency upgrades seal those air leaks to better hold warm air, insulating homeowners from the cold and from the uncertainty of rising fuel costs.

Home performance makes beloved homes comfortable and healthy.
As we age, lung function decreases and respiratory problems become more serious.   Allergens that were once just annoying become acute health risks, and good housekeeping only goes so far toward lessening them.  Damp basements are a breeding ground for mold and mildew and, because air enters below ground level, most of the air in your home has passed through that petri dish – not a healthy proposition.  Home performance solutions that keep moisture outside the building envelope lower the risk of asthma by 33%.  Studies have also linked efficiency and weatherization with the reduced use of asthma medication, a decline in high blood pressure, and shorter hospital stays during colder months.

Home performance can prepare a family home for the next generation.
A home is more than a place to live.  It’s the repository of fond memories and future dreams, and many retirees look forward to passing that on to their children.  But an expensive, inefficient, uncomfortable house doesn’t always feel like a gift.  The next generation is much more likely to embrace a family home that’s been upgraded with efficiency measures that make it as practical as it is sentimental.

Home performance makes aging in place possible.
Whether you’re aging in a beloved family home or a new space, you’re probably seeking lower maintenance, lower bills, greater comfort, and greater health.  Energy efficiency upgrades make homes more comfortable, durable, healthy, and energy efficient – and they’re essential to making aging in place possible.