NEW YORK — When architect Michelle Krochmal decided to turn a Brooklyn brownstone from the 1870s into her home, she didn’t plan for a simple renovation.
“It was a great opportunity to make an energy efficient home, and make a lovely home at the same time,” Krochmal, from Filament Architecture Studio, said.
What You Need To Know
- Architect Michelle Krochmal designed her own energy-efficient home
- She installed energy-efficient appliances, heat pumps and solar panels, which are growing in popularity
- New York state offers incentives to offset the high cost of solar panels
She didn’t just pick energy-efficient appliances or electrical heat pumps for heat and cool air. She took one step further, installing solar panels on her roof deck to provide the whole building with its own electricity. It was a positive impact for the climate — and for her utility bill: last month, it came down to $21.18.
“Our energy bill is low anyway, even without the solar, and then with the solar, it’s a win-win situation,” Krochmal said.
Krochmal is part of a rapidly growing segment of New Yorkers installing solar panels in their homes.
“There’s a lot of folks that are fired up about trying to make a difference in New York City,” T.R. Ludwig, CEO of Brooklyn SolarWorks said, adding that the average solar installation could cost around $30,000.
But the final bill could be slashed in half thanks to New York state incentives. To those considering making the jump, the utility company Con Edison offers help.
“A lot of people have to look at, is solar good for you. It depends on the footprint of the house, where it is located, the solar density that you get in your area, and of course, it comes down to also cost,” Joe White, Distributed Generation Ombudsman at Con Edison, said.
More than 34,000 ConEd customers in New York City have already taken the plunge while they remain connected to the power grid.
“During the daytime you are producing solar, but at nighttime, you are using the grid," White said.
Additionally, any excess energy produced by the panels is fed into the system or stored in batteries for future use, contributing to an overall greener grid.
Given the urgency of this issue and how slow the international community has been at reducing greenhouse gas emissions, many believe that meaningful impact will require action at the personal level.
“Anyone who wants to do something about it, solar, if they have the means and if they own their property, they can certainly do it," Ludwig said. "That in itself is a giant contribution, personally, to making change."