Heating and cooling our buildings accounts for more than a third of greenhouse gases (GHGs) emitted in New York State. Space heating our buildings is most commonly fueled by oil or fossil gas (aka “natural gas” and propane). Getting more efficient — through air sealing and insulating our buildings — is the first and most essential step toward eliminating carbon.
But as our old heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems require replacement, it’s also critical that we plan and prepare to replace these with electric heat pumps powered by renewably-generated electricity. Heat pumps can eliminate the use of fossil fuels to heat and cool buildings and generate hot water. The result is cleaner air inside and outside of our homes, and elimination of climate-changing GHGs. Here’s more info on energy efficiency — that essential first step — and a more detailed look at your transition to heat pump technology.
Step One: Building Energy Efficiency, aka “Weatherization”
Weatherstripping and insulation aren’t very sexy compared to solar panels or electric vehicles! But sealing and insulating your building is essential for the transition to renewables. The simple truth is that we can’t build and install enough solar panels and wind turbines to meet today’s energy demand. But we can meet the climate goals established by the New York State Climate Act by “fixing” our buildings first. Fortunately, energy efficiency is a great investment in your building with a “payback period” that’s faster than solar panels or geothermal heating and cooling. That means you’ll save more money in less time. And the savings will continue for years. Clearly, energy efficiency is the first step to take on our path to 100% Renewable Energy buildings.
And greater efficiency is often easy to accomplish with inexpensive, “low tech” solutions. Many efficiency projects can be “DIY” — do-it-yourself. Those that do require a contractor also build our local economy by providing good jobs and keeping money in our communities. See Actions below to get started today!
Step Two: Heat Pumps
In order to help you and all Putnam residents make the transition to 100% renewable energy homes, Sustainable Putnam has found two local HVAC contractors who are NYSERDA-certified and have received good reviews from Sustainable Putnam partners. They are Bell Mechanical, Healthy Home Energy & Consulting, and Sealed. If you have experience with other HVAC contractors who install heat pumps, please drop a line to [email protected]
- Do it yourself! Take the first step to save money and energy such as adjusting your thermostat, install programmable thermostats that automatically move to lower temperature settings while you’re out of the house, sealing air leaks, and installing insulation.
- Sign up for a building energy audit to learn where your home or business is wasting energy and money, and what savings can be gained. Most New York State residents can get free (or low cost) home energy audits through NYS incentive programs. See NYSERDA Energy Contractors for more information.
- Heat and cool your home with heat pumps. Today’s heat pumps are a very efficient way to heat and cool even in subzero or heat emergency temperatures. Both NYSEG and Central Hudson and Gas offer rebates for these and other energy improvements. See New York State Clean Heat to find available rebates. Consider Bell Mechanical, Healthy Home Energy & Consulting, and Sealed to obtain estimates.
- Use our 100% Renewable Energy Toolkit to assist you in every aspect of fighting climate change in your household or business. For example, our Replacement Plan template helps you prepare to replace that older furnace or central Air Conditioning unit with efficient heat pumps. See the Guide & Checklist for more info.