How to convert your NYC apartment or building from gas to electric

There are several reasons why it might make sense for owners of New York City apartments and even entire buildings to switch from gas to electric: indoor air quality, new emission limits, cost savings, costs and more frequent gas line inspections, to name a few. . The process and cost, however, can seem overwhelming whether you’re in a small condo or a large co-op with thousands of apartments.

In fact, the decision to switch from gas to electric is often a response to a crisis, says attorney Steven Kirkpatrick, partner at Romer Debbas. He says the problem most often occurs when there is a leak.

“I get calls when the gas goes out in a building – people wonder how long it’s going to last – it could be months, it could be a few years,” he says. Indeed, if it is difficult to access a shareholder’s apartment, repairs may stop.

[Editor’s note: This article was originally published in February 2022. We are presenting it again here as part of our summer Best of Brick week.]

If you’re curious about what it would take to go from gas to electric, you’ll need to figure out exactly what level of conversion makes sense. Heating and air conditioning systems, as well as water heaters and other major appliances, can all be converted to electric, and the cost and efficiency will depend on the changes you make.

Replacing gas in a unit

For a condo owner in Brooklyn, the decision to replace her gas stove with an induction furnace came after she was “spooked” by reports of gas furnaces being linked to indoor air pollution. As a board member of her eight-unit condo, she was also looking for ways to make the building more energy efficient, including converting heating and air conditioning systems to electricity.

For all major modifications to your apartment, you will need to check the regulations and constitutive documents of your building. The amendment agreement may also address whether you can trade in your gas appliances.

When Tina Larsson, co-founder of the co-op and condominium consulting firm The Folson Group, wanted to replace its radiators with an electric heat pump, the cooperative’s board of directors approved it, but on a case-by-case basis. “It’s not common for councils to receive this request,” she says.

Once you have obtained board approvals, the first step is to plug and remove the gas line from the appliance, which can only legally be done by a licensed professional. master plumber. According to the Department of Buildings, the plumber is responsible for filing the proper permits, and once they have them, they can safely plug the existing gas line and request any necessary signature inspections.

The process would also involve running special capacity electrical wiring for your new electrical appliances. You will need a licensed master electrician to determine if you have the correct outlet and, if necessary, file permits for upgrades.

Expect some resistance from one segment of New Yorkers: home cooks.

New Yorkers are fiercely attached to their gas stoves for cooking. Many say the cooking abilities of the alternatives aren’t as good. Case in point: Kirkpatrick says he’s represented restaurateurs who fought gas-to-electric conversion in court because of electricity’s inferior cooking capacity. He says homeowners are no less attached to their gas cooking appliances.

Then there is the cost: Radiant electric and induction ovens – the most popular alternatives – are expensive, typically costing between $1,500 and $3,000.

Options for building-wide changes

Not all residents will be willing to trade in their devices. But rReducing your gas or oil consumption in a building doesn’t have to be all or nothing. You can swap heating and cooling systems, or just water heating, or both. With council approval, residents can make individual choices regarding gas appliances, stoves and washer/dryers.

That doesn’t make the decision-making any easier, Larsson says. “The entire menu is what makes it so difficult for boards,” she says.

Cooking and heating systems will be separated.

“Some buildings have electrified heating and air conditioning, but they are still working on financing a change to their hot water system, which must operate 365 days a year,” says Larsson. In his experience, replacing the heating and cooling system is the most effective in terms of savings and reducing emissions. When she replaced three wall-mounted air conditioners and the radiators in her own apartment for a modern heat pump, she says her energy consumption and monthly energy bills have been cut in half.

Larsson is working with the board of a 30-unit apartment building that wants to install a heat pump to replace the building’s heating and cooling system. The building will still heat its water with the current boiler and will continue to use cooking gas. The cost per apartment is $16,000. She estimates that this could reduce the building’s energy costs by at least 40% and up to 60%.

However, there are many variables. There are a certain amount of fixed costs involved in a conversion that make it more expensive for a small building because the cost is spread over fewer residents. For example, changing the power supply for heating and hot water (but not air conditioning) in a building with five apartments cost $30,000 per apartment, Larsson says.

Kirkpatrick reports a the board can argue under business judgment laws that a change from gas to electric makes sense, so implementing the change isn’t too complicated. However, if a council makes changes to the provision of cooking gas when the service is promised to residents in the governing documents, he says, “there may be complaints”.

Incentives and penalties for energy consumption

Residential buildings over 25,000 square feet are now required to post signs indicating their energy efficiency rating (known as benchmarking) and, under Local Law 97, meet new energy efficiency limits and greenhouse gas emissions by 2024 with even stricter limits by 2030.

Larsson believes that by 2030, 80% of buildings will be subject to penalties and it is liable to fines estimated at several hundred thousand dollars if buildings do not modify their energy consumption. She says when buildings receive their first bill in 2031, it will be a wake-up call.

“We work with buildings that have a budget of $2 million, so $200,000 is 10%,” she says.

If you plan to sell in the next few years, you might feel even more urgency. An analysis last year by The city found nearly 50 percent of buildings had a D rating or lower. “Once buildings start to increase in rating, who will want to buy into a building that has a D?” asks Larsson.

If a council makes the decision to replace gas lines, the first consideration is how this will be funded. Larsson says there are currently incentives available through the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority and Con Edison that subsidize about 25% of installation costs for greener power. Depending on the adoption of laws at the federal level, it is possible that this funding may increase.

The board must then decide how it will fund the remaining 75%, whether from the building’s reserve fund, appraisals or whether it needs external funding. One option comes from the national funding program Clean energy rated by the property, which allows eligible buildings to pay the installation cost by building the payment into their property taxes for the next decade or more.

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