Residential property owners across the city are seeking out ways to reduce their buildings utility costs and carbon footprints. Between energy efficient appliances, insulation, and solar, owners can patch together solutions, ultimately saving money in the long run. While the costs of new systems and installation may appear daunting at first there are ways to make these upgrades affordable through financing and city, state and federal incentives. Before jumping to any conclusions, it is imperative to conduct energy audits on your building(s). This will give you an idea of what solutions are most feasible based on energy consumption and building characteristics. The most common solutions will be composed of installing new efficient HVAC systems, solar panels and improving insulation.
Cold climate air source heat pumps are a relatively new technology and an integral component to the city’s carbon reduction plan. A study done by NYSERDA in 2019, estimated that 100,00 new residential heat pump systems would have to be installed by 2025 to stay on target with LL97 benchmarking. While heat pump tech has been around for some time, they have been subject to primarily southern regional use due to climate. Some northern building owners have been using geothermal heat pump for years but not every building has the luxury of space that those systems require. Upgrades in the technology have now made air source heat pumps compatible in the North. Similar to an A/C, air source heat pumps pull outside air into the home, manipulating the pressure of the refrigerant, either heating or cooling the air circulating through. Because the system is electric, your buildings footprint will decrease as it will no longer be dependent on oil or fuel. It is important to note that although your HVAC system is electrified, the electricity it pulls will not eliminate your footprint completely. Most of New York City’s energy is pulled from carbon emitting sources and the city currently lacks the infrastructure to bring in renewable energy produced upstate (NYISO). However, your gas bill will be eliminated and you should expect a rise in your electricity bill. Installation will be expensive if your building currently uses old heating tech like hot-water radiator systems. For a full list of heat pump possibilities and their specific considerations visit NYSERDA’s Heating & Cooling systems page here.
Unlike cold climate heat pumps, solar technology has been around for a long time. Because the technology is consistently improving and proven to work, solar tech is becoming an increasingly reliable source of energy independence for home owners across the city. As the cost of energy continues to rise in the state, a home’s ability to offset energy spikes and variability is crucial for saving money on utility costs. To understand what personal solar production could look like for you, check out EcoWatch’s New York Solar: What to Expect 2022.When it comes to solar not every home is equal. From financing to sunlight exposure and roof space/access solar can be a viable solution for some homes but not all. Luckily community solar projects are becoming more accessible giving all homes the potential to reap the benefits of clean energy. To learn about community solar projects in your area and how to apply visit NYSERDA’s NY-Sun program.
Lastly, insulating your home properly and updating your building envelope is the most cost-effective investment you can make. Without tearing apart your units you can save money by controlling the amount of air leaking outside. Air leaks are costly, contributing to higher than needed utility costs and tenant discomfort. To view NYSERDA’s Comfort Home Program click here.