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Could Making Home Improvements Boost Your Health?

09 July 2018

When you think about getting new windows for your Liverpool home, you’re probably focusing on the aesthetics and energy efficiency more than on how this kind of change could improve your health.

However, new research has found that making some simple upgrades to your property could have a significant impact on your overall health, particularly among older people.

Writing for the Independent, Sarah Rodgers, a professor in epidemiology at Swansea University who was involved in the research project, explained that their aim was to explore the link between hospital admissions and the state of people’s properties.

Although the research focused on Wales, the findings have implications that could have a significant impact across the UK.

The team worked with over 9,000 residents living in council properties, some of which had recently received home improvements and others which hadn’t. The improvements carried out included fitting new windows and doors, installing loft and wall insulation, replacing old heating and electrical systems, and laying new garden paths.

They then compared hospital admissions data to the information they’d gathered about the state of people’s properties. For those aged over 60, they discovered there was a reduction in emergency hospital admissions for cardiovascular and respiratory illnesses of up to 39 per cent among those whose homes had been improved.

There was also a similar reduction of falls and burns injuries in this age group. In addition, they recorded a drop in hospital admissions of between 19 and 34 per cent across tenants of all ages in the properties that had been fitted with new doors, windows and electrical systems, as well as those that had had improvements made to their garden paths.

Ms Rodgers explained that one of the most important findings was that making homes less damp led to a significant improvement in people’s overall health.

She stated that “damp removal improvements are important as part of a whole home intervention”, adding: “Currently, they are regarded to be of secondary importance and related to comfort not health.”

Aside from the positive impact these home improvements can have on individuals, Ms Rodgers stressed that they could bring about big savings for the NHS. She commented that although her team only looked at costly hospital admissions for their study, “in the long term their reduction is likely to be only the tip of the iceberg in terms of saving NHS money and resources”.

Of course, the sorts of home improvements covered by the Swansea University research offer benefits other than improved health. From an energy efficiency perspective, a new boiler and central heating system could save you energy and money.

This is according to research published recently by GoCompare home insurance, while fitting new double glazing was cited as another project that could save you money on your energy bills as well as adding value to your home if you’re planning to sell.

The study found that upgrading your boiler, central heating or double glazing could add four per cent to the value of your property when you come to put it on the market.

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