HONG KONG - Better home insulation and ventilation and using electricity instead of fossil fuels could reduce indoor pollution and save thousands of lives, especially in low-income countries like India, a study has found.

Using mathematical modeling and case studies, researchers said such strategies could avert 5,500 premature deaths and reduce carbon dioxide emission by up to 41 megatonnes, or 41 million tonnes, per year in a country like Britain.

Indoor household fuel pollutants would be removed by switching all household fossil fuels to electricity, and energy could be saved by reducing thermostat temperatures, the researchers said in a paper published in The Lancet Series on Health and Climate Change

Led by Paul Wilkinson at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, the researchers said the costs of such energy-efficient improvements would be substantial but would be offset by significant savings on fuel.

The researchers examined the benefits of introducing cleaner cooking stoves in a low-income country like India, where burning of biomass results in lung and heart disease.

Assuming that 150 million efficient low-emission household cooking stoves were installed, the authors said: By 2020, 87 percent of Indian households would have very much cleaner combustion and air.

The total number of averted premature deaths from acute lower respiratory infections will have reached about 240,000 children aged younger than 5 years, and more than 18 million premature adult deaths from ischemic heart disease and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease will have been averted.

In another paper in the same series, researchers said reducing carbon-based electricity generation would lead to significant health benefits worldwide, particularly in countries like India and China.

Led by Anil Markandya at the BC3 Basque Center for Climate Change in Spain, the researchers calculated the benefits of reducing total carbon dioxide emissions by 50 percent in 2030.

The best-case scenario would, in India, avert 93,000 premature deaths in 2030 compared with business as usual, the researchers wrote.

In the EU, 5,000 deaths would be averted and in China the number would be 57,000.

(Reporting by Tan Ee Lyn; Editing by Paul Tait)