The Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA) requires New York state to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 85% by 2050. In order to do that, New Yorkers are going to have to make some changes. Those changes are currently being hammered out in the draft scoping plan issued by the Climate Action Council.

Buildings are the largest greenhouse gas emitters in the state; the draft plan is optimistic that decarbonizing the state’s building stock will deliver both job growth and economic opportunity.

While the goal is to address new construction and retrofits for all buildings from single-family homes to commercial and institutional buildings, the draft plan acknowledges that attention must be paid to both equity and affordability.

The plan recommends controlling costs by “targeting natural investment points in the life cycle of a building (e.g., construction, equipment replacement, sales/leasing)”; upgrading equipment at the end of its life cycle; and creating strategic market incentives and subsidies.

Some of these incentives and subsidies would go toward energy efficiency and capital improvements, two benefits that may be found with heat pumps.

But there have been questions regarding the efficiency of heat pumps in cold weather, as well as the cost of heat pump installation.

Roger Caiazza is a retired air pollution meteorologist and author of the Pragmatic Environmentalist of New York.

“There are two kinds of heat pumps. There’s the air source heat pump that extracts energy from the atmosphere, so it’s relatively easy to install and cheap,” Caiazza explained. “And a ground source heat pump that requires you to put in a heat-exchanging ground loop which is more complicated, but it’s a better option because there is always heat in the ground.”

Any concerns about heat pumps functioning in upstate New York during the winter are connected to air source heat pumps. To address that, the scoping plan recommends a supplemental resistance heating unit, as well as a possible investment in the “shell” of your home. 

The draft scoping plan describes two bundles of building shell improvements: basic and deep. A deep shell is more expensive. But according to Caiazza, if you invest in a deep shell, you will be able to use an air source heat pump effectively all year round.

“Yes, you can get away with it and you won’t need the electric resistance back up heat,” Caiazza said.

Ground source heat pumps are more effective in cold weather than air source heat pumps, but they are also more expensive. For example, according to the draft scoping plan device cost estimates, an air source heat pump will cost about $14,678, plus another $1,140 for the electric resistance backup. 

Installation for a ground source heat pump is much more involved and could cost a homeowner $34,082, according to Caiazza. 

If you invest in a basic shell to insulate your home, the cost would be $6409. The cost of a deep shell would be upwards of $45,136.

According to Caiazza, the price range for heat pumps, installation and supplemental heat could be between $22,227 and $79,218, using the scoping plan’s estimates. 

Documentation for Caiazza’s assumptions can be found here.

The good news?  There are subsidies and tax credits that will be available for you by the time you need to invest.

“Absolutely, NYSERDA (New York State Energy Research and Development Authority) has all sorts of programs, and I believe there are some federal programs also for heat pumps,” Caiazza said.

The public is being asked to weigh in on the draft scoping plan at hearings that are currently taking place around the state. Click here for more details.

The CAC’s draft scoping plan is online here. You will find the section that deals with energy efficiency and housing on Page 28.