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NYC is testing window-mounted devices that could cut heating costs by over 50%: 'This is the way to do that'

"We know where we need to go."

"We know where we need to go."

Photo Credit: iStock

New York City is experimenting with a way to heat NYC apartments more efficiently and reliably than furnaces or boilers that run on dirty energy like gas and oil. 

The New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) is installing heat pumps in some apartments as a means of cutting heating and cooling costs and carbon pollution released when generating heat the old-fashioned way.

New York first announced in 2022 a $70 million investment in the development and production of 30,000 heat pumps for public housing. These heat pumps are special because they are essentially the same size as a window-mounted air conditioning unit.

These heat pumps will similarly be installed on windowsills, from which they'll heat apartments in the winter and cool them in the summer. Heat pumps have become increasingly popular across the country, but until now they were only for homeowners with space for the larger prototypical design.

Gradient, one of the companies awarded funding for this experiment, says that on the coldest days, the window heat pumps can reduce heating costs by 15-55% compared to gas-powered steam heat and 51-74% compared to oil-powered steam heat. 

Notably, many New York City residents rely on such heat, which the NYCHA calls "19th-century technology incompatible with 21st-century needs."

If the experiment proves successful and more cities adopt a similar program, it could go a long way in the fight against the overheating of the planet caused by using oil and gas for energy. 

According to the International Energy Agency, heating buildings accounts for 26% of energy-related carbon pollution, which exacerbates extreme weather events like prolonged drought, flooding, and the frequency of severe storms, all of which threaten the food supply by destroying crops or making them impossible to grow.

New York is one of nine states that have prioritized heat pumps in an effort to curb the use of planet-warming fuels.

"It's a relatively cheap, relatively simple technology that's plug-and-play, that works in the 100-year-old public-housing brick building," said climate economist Gernot Wagner of the Columbia Business School. 

He added: "We know where we need to go. We have to electrify buildings; we have to get off gas and oil heat especially. This is the way to do that."

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