Efficiently heating and cooling residential buildings in New York City is a challenge. Decades ago, energy conservation and comfort simply were not the issues that they are today. What may be seen as a hardship today, (i.e., lack of air conditioning), wasn't even considered forty and fifty years ago. Today, relatively small temperature fluctuations are considered a problem needing attention. Less technology, fewer creature comfort concerns and lower energy costs then seemingly contributed to a variety of building and HVAC design practices, which are causing problems for building managers and occupants now. While there have been many advances and improvements in HVAC equipment performance and controls, and good reasons in terms of comfort and energy savings to upgrade to newer technology, dealing with the disruption of implementing equipment retrofits is a major consideration. This consideration often outweighs all other concerns. Programmable thermostats will yield immediate financial returns while reducing heating/cooling costs and increasing residents' comfort.
A variety of HVAC technologies can be found in the city's residential building stock; several are common. Steam radiators, electric baseboard strip heat, packaged terminal air conditioning (PTAC), packaged terminal heat pump (PTHP), two-pipe and four-pipe fan-coils are all common examples.
Many buildings lack cooling design components and rely solely on window and wall A/C for air conditioning. These common equipment choices typically use integrated line-voltage thermostat controls (of the bimetallic or refrigerant-tube variety) mounted within the equipment itself. They are unfortunately synonymous with remarkably poor temperature control. In the case of some fan-coil models, only a fan-speed switch is provided; surprisingly, no thermostat exists of any kind.
Equipment efficiency is an important factor, but regardless of efficiency, good temperature control is vital. Without it, energy waste is inevitable. After all, operating high-efficiency equipment without proper controls is merely wasting energy, albeit efficiently.
Inadequate temperature control and lack of programmable temperature setback capability is characteristic of residential HVAC equipment in New York City. Poor temperature control leads to overheating and overcooling living spaces and common areas, wasted energy and sacrificed comfort.