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With Residents Away, the Board Will Play, To Get the Right Size Water Heater

Meave Gallagher, with reporting by Tom Soter in Building Operations on September 10, 2014

York River House, 1175 York Avenue, Upper East Side

York River House, 1175 York Avenue, Manhattan
York River House
Sept. 10, 2014

Knowing how many residents of the building — a "cond-op," a condominium divided into one or more commercial units plus a single residential "unit" that is actually a co-op with shareholders, who owns shares in the co-op that owns this residential condominium — are away during the summer months enabled the board and managing agent to know what size of hot water system was truly needed, says Meister.

Head Count

Innovatively, he worked with the buildings' doormen to do an informal count. "They know who has kids, whose kids are in camp, who is at the Hamptons every week," Meister says. Stein, who estimates that she's in the Hamptons about 60 percent of the summer, joked: "The doormen know that at Apartment X, the three kids are at sleepaway camp and they know it because they're the ones who picked up the duffle bags on June 28."

Meister determined that only about 45 percent of the building, at 1175 York Avenue between East 63rd and 64th Streets, is occupied during summer months. With the old system, coils within the heating boilers are used to heat water that is destined for residential use. The problem with that type of system is that it requires the boilers to be fired year-round, a costly and wasteful practice. At York River House, however, the new system includes two new high-efficiency hot water heaters that are separate from the boiler system.


"They are downsizing to exactly what they need," says project engineer Ralph Germain, vice president at the engineering firm Robert F. Germain. He notes that the soon-to-be installed dual-fuel system will also have a coil system that can be used to provide hot water, but most of the year, the building will rely on the independent hot water heaters.

The cost of the water heater system is $150,000, and it can provide 6,500 gallons per hour of hot water with the storage tanks that were used.

The new system will reduce the fuel consumption by half in summer, when only hot water is produced, not heat. "Generally, when the boilers are making heat, we will use the coils in the boilers for the hot water due to the boilers being hot already because they need to make steam for heat," says Michael Bendjouya, owner of Controlled Combustion, the contractor on the job. "We expect $20,000 savings annually," and a return on investment in about eight years.


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