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NYCHA Improves Service and Saves Money with New Hot Water Heaters

The New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) is implementing a $64 million program that will save millions more in the long run, while providing better service to residents. The Hot Water Storage Tank Replacement Program, a collaboration between NYCHA and the New York Power Authority (NYPA), replaces conventional 1,500, 2,000 and 3,000 gallon hot water tanks with energy-saving instantaneous hot water heaters.

Rather than storing gallons of hot water for resident use, the new system heats water instantly, the minute a resident turns on the hot water faucet. This results in huge utility and cost savings and there are other important benefits as well. "NYCHA’s Energy Department and our hardworking partners from the Power Authority are thrilled to bring this new technology to public housing buildings across the City," said Energy Director Lloyd Kass.

Instantaneous Hot Water Heater
The new heaters will significantly reduce carbon dioxide emissions while providing improved service.
Photo credit: Kevin Devoe

To date, the new heaters are installed in 205 buildings, and if all goes according to plan, by the time the current phase of the program is completed in 2008 the systems will be installed in a total of 560 buildings in 55 developments. The total projected saving in energy costs alone is nearly $7 million annually.

But there’s more good news. Conventional hot water tanks require an annual inspection and cleaning. The tanks have to be drained and cooled, so that one of NYCHA’s Heating Plant Technicians can climb in and perform the necessary maintenance. This translates into a disruption of hot water service for approximately 12 hours.

The new tanks require minimal maintenance, and because each system is "redundant" — meaning each heater has a back-up unit which can support everybody’s hot water needs — residents may never notice if a unit malfunctions. This means, no disruption in service to residents. The new instantaneous hot water heaters also maintain water temperature at a steady 120 degrees, protecting residents from possible scalding by overheated water.

"It’s a different way of providing hot water," said Energy Operations Chief Frank Romano on a recent visit to Baruch Houses on Manhattan’s Lower East Side to see the new tanks in action. "We have one these operating at Atlantic Terminal [in Brooklyn], in 30-story buildings."

The instantaneous hot water heaters also contribute to a better environment. Greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide, or CO2, caused by industry, agriculture and transportation, are attributed as the main cause of global warning. NYPA estimates that once all of NYCHA’s 560 instantaneous hot water systems are installed, there will be a carbon dioxide reduction of more than 53 million pounds per year! The 53 million pound reduction is the same benefit to the atmosphere as 5,202 passenger cars not being driven for one year!

"This is a grand slam for NYCHA," said Board Member Margarita López enthusiastically on the trip to Baruch. "The instantaneous hot water heaters are saving the Housing Authority money and energy, giving residents better service, and helping the environment. People should know that NYCHA is making this contribution to a better City."

By Eileen Elliott
May 23, 2007