The age of instant information has transformed the way renters and homeowners in New York City go about cutting down on their carbon emissions and excessive water usage while boosting energy efficiency and saving money on utility bills.
According to Michael Petri, owner of Brooklyn’s Petri Plumbing and Heating, simple daily tasks like using remote controlled thermostats, eco-friendly cleaning solutions, insulated hot water pipes, reusing water, and locating draft spots make a major difference. In the 1980’s and 1990’s, there were no regulations mandating water meters.
“People may not have realized just how much of commodity water in the city is until water meters became mandatory,” Petri said. “A one-family house could have a $200 quarterly water bill if they’re conservative. We worked on four family house, the water bill was $500 a quarter, one quarter it went up to $2,800 because a toilet was running.”
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As information is now a click away, clients are less likely to get burned by dishonest or lazy plumbers who provide a less-than optimal service. The city now uses toilet bowls designed to cut down to about .8 gallons per flush instead of the older ones that used 5 gallons per flush.
“When they put them out, it was too quickly, inefficient, people had to double flush and were disgusted. Technology wasn’t ready. Now we use 1.28 which is considered high efficiency. The dynamics of toilets has changed. As far as showers, they all have flow restrictors reducing flow to about 1.5 gallons per min. Faucets are designed to accommodate,” Petri said.
People initially hated them, as they would stand under the shower with little water pressure.
But technology growth has made improvements to better suit the hygenic and monetary needs.
“We did a condo in the Lower East Side, they put in four shower heads that put out 7.5 gallons per min. It was totally against code, and drained the roof tank. Never seen anything like it. People are gluttons at times. They'll take it all for granted until the bill comes.”
Wi-fi thermostats have also change the game now that can change the heat remotely. Most of the city runs on steam heat, and insulation and proper air valves are the key to saving people money while the system releases less gases and fuel usage.
In New York, the heating price increases by 15 percent for every degree on thermostat.
“People have called with $1,800 utility bills due of inefficient equipment. Switching from gas from oil, but gas prices went up. Old burners might operate at 50 percent efficiency. Modern burners work at about 82%, but efficiency is just a number if the house has drafts, if the equipment is installed improperly, or if there improper air vents.”
Petri said that thanks to the internet and to the modern influence on efficiency-oriented carbon footprint reduction efforts, younger clients are a totally different conversation than older ones.
“This is an info world. Younger folks are more in tune with it. They care. We go to an older person’s home, they could care less if they have a dinosaur boiler burner that’s pumping out carbon. The generational gap is clear. Just like the infrastructure, NYC homes are old. The mentality is old too.”