Saturday, Dec 02nd

Fight Climate Change with Geothermal Heating and Cooling

HeatExchange(This letter was submitted by Elaine Weir)

Dear Editor:
We must not give up hope to conquer the climate crisis, even though the most recent reports by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says we are not doing enough to tame carbon pollution from fossil fuels and our world could be unrecognizable by the end of the century – within the lifetime of a child born today.

I see progress in my neighborhood and the world. My husband and I switched our heating and cooling to geothermal in February 2020 and our contribution to pollution from our home was drastically reduced. Since we switched, two more houses within walking distance are also installing geothermal systems. We have found that geothermal heating and cooling is much more energy efficient than fossil fuels, and unlike our neighbors’, our energy bills have not skyrocketed.

Right next door in NYC all new construction will start phasing in all electric buildings starting in 2024. In addition, Washington state now mandates electric heat pumps for heating, cooling, and hot water in all new buildings starting July 2023 and Montreal will start phasing in starting 2024.

All-electric new buildings are less expensive to build too. For a fossil fuel building, both electricity and fossil fuel lines need to be installed. Also, since the US is becoming the world’s largest exporter of liquified natural gas, the era of cheap natural gas is over.

We must educate ourselves on new technology. For example, I attended a New York State hearing on the All-Electric Building Act. I was in shock when one Assembly member said all-electric buildings do not work in cold weather, but my daughter is quite warm in her all-electric building in the Adirondacks, one of the coldest parts of the state.

We must be wary of false narratives like “how will you heat your house if the electricity goes off.” What nonsense. When our home was heated with gas, we were cold during power outages. Are the fossil fuel companies attempting to sow fear, uncertainty, and doubt about our clean energy future with scaremongering over grid capacity and reliability? The culture war over gas stoves is over the top. Many people prefer smooth top electric stoves that are easy to clean, unlike gas stoves with their many moving parts.

There is more good news. Our electric grid is stressed in the summer and not the winter so there is room on the electrical grid for heat pumps to heat our homes. Our utility companies will be able to support new construction of all-electric buildings right away and begin an orderly transition to a pollution-free buildings sector.

Talking about pollution. My daughter suffers from asthma which is why she moved to the Adirondacks. Also, her ill health prompted me to investigate geothermal in the first place. We need to clean the air not just for the climate crisis but for people’s health now. The outdoor pollution from fossil fuels in New York’s buildings is estimated to be responsible for about 2000 deaths each year, with about $22 billion in associated healthcare costs. Similarly, indoor pollution from leakage and combustion of gas is linked to numerous health risks, including asthma among children and dementia among the elderly.

It will take time and energy to clean our air, but the technology is ready and economical for us to stop digging ourselves deeper into the carbon hole. It is time for Governor Hochul and all our NYS representatives to lead the way to a bright future and do what is right for the health of the people and the planet.


Elaine Weir
138 Brewster Road, Scarsdale, NY 10583

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