What’s the Carbon Footprint of your Sleep Apnea Treatment?
When it comes to sleep apnea treatment , you have your choice of treatment options. When considering your choices, remember that sleep apnea treatment is likely something you will be doing every night for the rest of your life.
Hopefully, you’ll be living a long, healthy life thanks to the effectiveness of your sleep apnea treatment, but over that time, your sleep apnea treatment could end up having a significant carbon footprint, so it’s important to consider choosing a sleep apnea treatment that has a lower carbon footprint. When you consider the two main treatment options, it’s clear that this is oral appliance therapy.
Initial Manufacturing Cost
Even at the initial stage, an oral appliance has a much smaller carbon footprint than a CPAP machine. The CPAP machine includes an electric motor (although small), as well as electric cords, other electronic components, and the housing. Although these are relatively small appliances nowadays (typically less than five pounds), they are still much larger than an oral appliance (less than a pound), which is made almost entirely of plastic in most models. On top of the CPAP machine, you have to account for the hoses and mask, which themselves rival the manufacturing carbon emissions of the oral appliance.
In addition, CPAP machines are often loaded with accessories to make them reasonable to use. This includes humidifiers, heaters, and other accessories.
Longevity Is Comparable
Higher carbon emissions for CPAP might be reasonable if they lasted longer than oral appliances, but that’s not the case. Both typically last about 3-5 years (and insurance companies will often only pay to replace them this frequently), which means that every replacement cycle further increases the carbon emissions related to your CPAP machine.
CPAP Accessories Need to Be Replaced More Often
Of course, it’s only the CPAP machine that actually lasts 3-5 years. Other parts of the CPAP treatment device generally need to be replaced much more often. Equipment like masks, hoses, straps, pads, and filters wear out relatively quickly, and might need to be replaced as often as 3-6 months! That’s up to 20 replacements of this additional equipment that will need to be done over the course of the machine’s life. Even if each accessory replacement results in fewer carbon emissions than replacing an oral appliance, you’re replacing them so much more frequently.
Don’t Forget the Power
And, of course, there’s the issue that CPAP uses electricity, while an oral appliance does not. Fortunately, a CPAP machine is a fairly frugal appliance, using an average of about 45 W. If you use your CPAP machine for 8 hours a night, that comes out to 360 Wh per night. That adds up over time, though, turning into 131.5 kWh per year, or 657.5 kWh over the lifetime of your CPAP machine. If we consider that the each kWh is associated with 1.55 pounds of CO2 in Michigan, that’s a little over half a ton of CO2 excess emissions over the life of one CPAP machine. When we add that up over your expected lifespan, a man diagnosed with sleep apnea at age 45 might generate about 3.5 tons more CO2 using CPAP than they would using an oral appliance, even without the additional emissions related to manufacturing and accessories for CPAP.
Get an Effective Sleep Apnea Treatment
Admittedly, this is a relatively small source of emissions compared to many of the other lifestyle choices we make in life. You could save that amount of carbon by choosing a slightly more efficient car. Choosing a car that gets 35 mpg over one that gets just 30 mpg will save about five times the amount of CO2 emissions related to CPAP power usage (but not necessarily replacement cost). So it’s more important to make sure you’re getting an effective sleep apnea treatment.
But if both an oral appliance and CPAP will work for you, this is an important consideration that can help you make your decision. To learn more about this and other benefits of oral appliance therapy for sleep apnea in the Lake Norman area, please call (704) 964-6404 today for an appointment with Dr. Ronald Cox, DDS, Diplomate, American Board of Dental Sleep Medicine.