Heat Pump Program Meeting – Review

On September 30th, 2010 Residents of WVH site 2 were invited to a meeting regarding the Heat-Pump Program.  The meeting was open to all residents but the focus was for Site 2 residents. I attended the meeting hoping to get more information about the (NYSERDA) Heat Pump Program.  Our energy consultant Herbert E. Hirschfeld PE (www.submeteronline.com) making the presentation provided very little information about the units proposed installation.  Here is what the Mr. Hirschfeld did provide:

  • The Heat-Pump Program qualifies Site 2 households to receive, free of charge, 2 heat pump/air conditioning units.  The units will be installed in the existing air conditioning sleeve with no modification to the electrical service and will be monitored for an “undisclosed period” via the sub-meter.
  • The Heat-Pump(s) are currently been tested at Jefferson Towers – 700 Columbus Avenue.
  • WVH will pay for the professional installation of all units for Site 2 only. As well as un-installing the units should the program fail to serve its purpose.  The cost of the installation per unit was not disclosed.
  • Current heat base boards will not be removed.  They could be used as back-up heaters.
  • 90% of Site 2 residents must sign agreement for program to take effect.  If the 90% quota of agreements is not met, another WVH site will be considered for the testing.
  • Each participating apartment will get only 2 heat pumps (Living Room and Master Bedroom).  There will be an extra unit only for duplex residents.  Not one apartment will be fully equipped with the Heat Pumps. If a resident at Site 2 wishes to have more than two Heat Pumps installed then said individual will need to buy the additional units (about $1,000 p/u).
  • Mr. Hirschfeld will have full control of all units remotely from his office.  Gail Davis will also be trained on how to access the system.  Mr. Hirschfeld can shut down all units as well as change the temperature in each apartment remotely from his office.  He indicated that he does not plan on changing the temperature but he has done it at the other sites where the program has been tested.  He also stated that for some people “the temperature of the apartment is a mental-thing”. He further remarked that, “in changing the temperature of some residents from 70-72 degrees down to 67-68 and that the residents did not even notice or were unaware of the drop in temperature.” This ability to control temperatures without understanding the individual health situation of every impacted resident is unacceptable. Neither he nor Gail are health professionals and therefore should not have the ability to alter the internal temperature of an apartment. This could conceivably put the complex in risk of lawsuits related to unforeseen health impact on controlling a resident’s temperature.

Based on my observations, most of Site 2 residents were excited to receive the heat pumps but, raised few questions.  However, other “non-site 2 residents” did raise some questions only to be quickly confronted by Site 2 residents who did not want risk losing this opportunity.  One Site 2 resident asked if she could have only one heat pump installed.  She bought brand new energy efficient air conditioning and would not want to throw them away.  No specific answer was provided other than other residents of Site 2 asked if they could have any “left-over heating pumps”.   When a non-site 2 resident questioned the accuracy of the testing (since none of the apartment units will be fully equipped with the heat pump), he was quickly discouraged from asking such questions to such a point the resident just walked out of the room.  Another non-site 2 resident asked the energy consultant where we could obtain additional information about the units.  The response was “additional information is not available at the moment”. 

So in conclusion, I felt this meeting was very unproductive. Questions were not fully answered and the meeting did not serve its purpose in providing proper information to the residents of West Village Housing.  The one thing clear was a sense of rush to have Site 2 residents to sign the agreement right away.