New York's Cooperative and Condominium Community

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New Study Reveals Health Benefits of Electric Stoves

Soundview, The Bronx

Greenhouse gas emissions, electric vs. gas stoves, Local Law 97, building emissions, co-op and condo boards.
Feb. 27, 2023

We recently reported on a 49-unit Brooklyn co-op that got rid of its gas stoves and replaced them with electric stoves of both the induction and radiant varieties. The co-op board was not driven by Local Law 97's looming caps on buildings' carbon emissions — because the co-op's three buildings are too small to fall under the law. Instead, the board was driven by the fact that the electric option was cheaper, and it got rid of worries about gas leaks, shutdowns and costly repairs to the century-old buildings' gas lines, which are seen as inevitable under the strict inspections mandated by Local Law 152.

Now there's added evidence that the board did the right thing. Residents who traded their gas stoves for electric induction ones saw improved air quality compared with their neighbors, according to the results of a pilot program across 20 apartments at a public housing complex in the Soundview section of the Bronx, The City website reports.

Run by the nonprofit WE ACT for Environmental Justice, in partnership with the New York City Housing Authority, the Association for Energy Efficiency, Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health and Berkeley Air Monitoring, the experiment involved switching out gas stoves for induction units in 10 apartments. After a 10-month run, the air quality in those households was compared to 10 neighboring apartments still using gas stoves to cook "standardized" meals. The households with electric ovens showed a 35% decrease in daily concentrations of the pollutant nitrogen dioxide and a nearly 43% difference in daily concentrations of carbon monoxide.

(Induction stoves transfer heat-generating electricity directly to ferrous-based cookware, while radiant stoves use electricity to heat stove-top elements.)

The Bronx study is one more piece of ammunition for advocates of electrification — the switch from fossil fuel-powered infrastructure to electric stoves, heat pumps and boilers. As New York's electric grid becomes increasingly powered by renewable energy sources — solar, wind, geothermal — the greenhouse gas emissions from electrified buildings will fall sharply.

At the Brooklyn co-op that switched to electric stoves, a contractor had to run electric wires inside walls, alongside decommissioned gas risers, and each apartment was outfitted with a new outlet and a new 40-amp circuit breaker expressly for the stove. The cost of the wiring upgrade was $170,000, which was paid out of the reserve fund. The 49 stoves cost about $1,000 apiece under a bulk purchasing deal, and that money also came out of the reserve fund. In the long run, according to the board's calculations, the switch will save money. And, as the new evidence suggests, it will improve the health of the shareholders, the city, and the planet.

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