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New York state's goals of 50% renewable energy by 2040 include a focus on clean heating and cooling.


Clean Heating & Cooling Systems — More Ways To Reduce GHG Emissions

New York state’s goals of 50% renewable energy by 2040 include a focus on clean heating and cooling.

Although the US has focused on reducing the environmental effects of conventional energy in the electric power and transportation sectors, in reality about 25% of total delivered energy consumption provides heating and cooling for buildings, domestic water, and a variety of industrial processes. As a result, the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) announced in August of 2018 that the state will launch its first community campaigns designed to install clean heating and cooling systems for residents and businesses. The initiative will play a major role in achieving Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s clean energy goal to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions 40% by 2030.

clean energy and cooling

Image courtesy of NYSERDA

Renewable technologies offer a safe, clean, efficient, and increasingly cost-competitive option to conventional energy use. These technologies are proven, mature, and low-risk, offering significant financial, environmental, and energy benefits. Clean heating and cooling offers the following benefits:

  • Provides predictable and often fixed-price energy over the life of the project
  • Reduces emissions and air pollutants without sacrificing comfort or performance
  • Utilizes sustainable renewable resources rather than finite fossil fuels
  • Stimulates local jobs and domestic economic growth
  • Increases our energy security by developing domestic energy sources

Alicia Barton, President and CEO, NYSERDA offered,

“Clean heating and cooling systems will provide users with energy bill savings, increased comfort levels and health benefits compared to conventional heating and cooling technologies. It’s a win-win for consumers and the environment and is another example of how communities are turning to more sustainable energy solutions in support of Governor Cuomo’s commitment to reducing GHG emissions.”

New York’s Clean Heating and Cooling Community Campaign

The NYSERDA Clean Heating and Cooling Community Campaign initiative brings together groups of potential customers so they can obtain discounts for air and ground source heat pumps, biomass heating, and solar heating, as well as to educate and increase the awareness and knowledge of clean heating and cooling technologies among consumers. The discounts will come through aggregated purchases and a simplified procurement process.

In total, NYSERDA is providing $1.66 million toward the clean heating and cooling campaigns. This latest funding is made available through the State’s Clean Energy Fund. Previously, NYSERDA announced the availability of $15 million in rebates for the installation of ground source heat pump systems for residences, businesses, and institutions as well as $10 million to install air-source heat pump systems for residences.

The Clean Heating and Cooling Community Campaign initiative is based on the State’s highly successful Solarize campaigns, which bring together groups of residents and businesses to install solar. Local governments undertake a Solarize campaign to increase the number of solar rooftops in the jurisdiction through group purchasing, locally-organized community education, outreach, and a limited time offer. Since 2014, there have been 850 solar projects installed or in development throughout New York, saving participants more than $2.9 million on upfront purchase costs.

Cuomo’s team has embarked on multiple renewable energy initiatives, including EV charging stationsenergy storage (including a li-ion battery demonstration project), community solar, and others.

NYSERDA is tapping into the power of communities to increase consumer awareness of cleaning heating and cooling technologies and their benefits, help reduce installation costs, and jump-start the clean heating and cooling market. Community members can negotiate rates collectively, select an installer competitively, and decrease up-front costs by enrolling in a local campaign.

Here are some of the clean heating and cooling systems that are part of the newest clean heating and cooling NYSERDA initiatives.

Ground-Source Heat Pump

Ground-source heat pump  (GSHP) — also referred to as geothermal heat pump — systems provide space heating and cooling, and, in some cases, hot water for residential and commercial buildings. The technology uses an indoor heat pump unit and a heat exchanging ground loop buried underground (or underwater) to transfer thermal energy between and among the ground and the building.

The variation in subsurface and/or groundwater temperatures remains constant across seasons — typically around 55°F, which allows ground-source heat pump systems to reach coefficients of performance of between 3 to 6.

  • When operating in heating mode, GSHP systems transfer thermal energy from the ground (or groundwater) to the building.
  • While when operating in cooling mode, the systems transfer thermal energy from the building to the ground (or groundwater).

GSHP systems are typically sized to provide 100% of the heating and cooling loads for a residential or commercial building. In some cases, though, these systems are sized below peak heating or cooling load – and installed with auxiliary electric resistance heat or cooling towers – to reduce installed costs.

There is significant variation in how the ground loop component is designed and installed, which affects project costs and efficiencies:

  • Closed-loop systems use a ground loop (typically made of polyethylene or PVC piping) that circulates water or antifreeze to exchange heat with the ground or a groundwater source. For closed-loop residential and smaller commercial systems, horizontal “slinky” configurations are often used. Vertical configurations, which can have column wells of up to 400 feet deep, are often used for large commercial systems. Closed-loop systems can also be submerged in bodies of water.
  • Open-loop systems circulate water for heat extraction and rejection directly from local groundwater sources. This can reduce the installed cost due to less piping and enhance system efficiency due to improved heat transfer. Ground-source heat pumps systems can also be designed as direct exchange systems, which circulate a refrigerant through a copper pipe instead of a typical ground loop. Direct exchange systems are highly efficient at heat extraction and rejection.
clean heating and cooling

Image courtesy Remodel Calculator

Air-Source Heat Pump

Heating and cooling systems use a lot of energy. Air-source heat pumps (ASHPs) are an efficient way to move heat between the outside and inside of a residence to keep it a comfortable temperature all year round. ASHPs have been used for many years in nearly all parts of the US. Recent technology advancements now make them a strong alternative for space heating in colder regions.

Today’s ASHP can reduce electricity use for residential or business heating by approximately 50% and reduce harmful GHG emissions. They also dehumidify better than standard central air- conditioners, resulting in less energy usage and more cooling comfort in summer months. They are quiet to operate and highly efficient, because they move heat rather than convert it.

Types of air-source heat pumps include:

  • Ducted vs. ductless: Ducted systems simply use ductwork. They are central systems that provide heating and cooling through ductwork. If a home already has a ventilation system or the home will be a new construction, ASHPs are an option to consider.
  • Ductless heat pumps, also known as mini-splits, consist of two units — a slim outdoor condenser and an indoor air handler. This indoor unit is connected to the outdoor compressor through a small opening in the wall or ceiling behind it. This means that mini splits don’t require ductwork to carry warm or cold air throughout the home. No ductwork means that mini-splits are very space-saving and flexible in where they can be placed, making them perfect for renovations and home additions. Systems can be single or multi-zone. Single-zone heat or cool one room while multi-zone have two or more indoor air handlers connected to an outdoor condenser allowing you to heat or cool individual rooms, hallways, and open spaces.

clean heating and cooling

Solar Thermal (Hot Water)

Solar hot water is a renewable power alternative that relies on the sun’s heat energy to produce hot water for homes and businesses. It uses roof-mounted solar collectors to heat cold water. When the water is hot enough and ready to use, pipes transport the water back to a hot water tank. And if a solar hot water (solar thermal) system cannot keep up with the heat demand, a simple, automatic control system enables the conventional water heater to provide supplemental hot water.

Solar energy is a very real and effective solution for homeowners and business owners who live in northern climates. A solar hot water system works when the sun is out — even on cloudy days. Depending on the cost of energy, the amount of sunlight and your typical hot water usage, solar hot water can be a very affordable power source. In fact, in a typical residential installation, electric hot water system users can save as much as 2,800 kilowatt-hours annually, or up to 20% on their electric bill.

clean heating and cooling

Benefits of Biomass: High-Efficiency, Low-Emission Wood Heating Systems

New high-efficiency biomass systems are automated and cleaner burning. Several characteristics affect the performance of biomass fuel, including the heat value, moisture level, chemical composition, and size and density of the fuel. In essence, more efficient combustion means less fuel is required.

Incentives help offset the cost of replacing or supplementing existing systems and installing new systems. An interesting curriculum from the NEED Project offers many details about switching to biomass as a home and residential energy source.

clean heating and cooling

Graphic courtesy of Canadian Biomass

Final Thoughts

For full details on the NYSERDA initiatives to promote clean heating and cooling, review all documents associated with the Clean Heating and Cooling Community Campaigns PON 3922.

An anonymous source has provided CleanTechnica with the following background. NYSERDA and the Connecticut Green Bank co-founded the Renewable Thermal Alliance with the goal of bringing the Northeast states together to develop the infrastructure for large-scale deployment of clean heating and cooling technologies. For clean heating and cooling campaigns, NYSERDA is partnering with Vermont, Massachusetts, and Connecticut to share best practices and lessons learned through the Clean Energy States Alliance.


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Written By

Carolyn Fortuna (they, them), Ph.D., is a writer, researcher, and educator with a lifelong dedication to ecojustice. Carolyn has won awards from the Anti-Defamation League, The International Literacy Association, and The Leavy Foundation. Carolyn is a small-time investor in Tesla. Please follow Carolyn on Twitter and Facebook.


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