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Brooklyn Family Turns a Home Into a Model of Efficiency & Sustainability

Solar Panels, Heat Pumps and Efficiency Features Save Money And Help Keep New York Clean and Sustainable

As a girl growing up in northern Virginia, Michelle Krochmal loved visiting the monuments in Washington D.C. and watching the ducks swim in the Tidal Basin. When her science teacher taught a lesson on acid rain, she worried about the ducks and other wildlife in the area.

Several decades later, as she watches news reports of fires raging on the West Coast and polar ice caps melting, Krochmal views the need for environmental sustainability with even greater urgency. That was her motivation as she and her family created a comfortable urban home with minimal emissions and low energy bills.

(See a video on the upgrades.)

“I care about the earth and my children’s future,” said Krochmal, who is an architect. “Due to water damage, our new home needed to be renovated, so why not do it in a way that would be best for the environment and lower our energy bills? I feel that it’s my responsibility as a parent and as a citizen to do what I can to limit climate change.”

“It’s admirable how this customer took such a comprehensive approach to energy efficiency and sustainability,” said Joe White, distributed generation ombudsman at Con Edison. “From selecting energy efficient appliances, a smart thermostat and installing solar panels to sealing out drafts and using recyclable materials, this family used every opportunity available to reduce its carbon footprint. This home is a glimpse into the clean energy future we want to help create for our customers, region and nation.”

The family bought a three-story fixer-upper in Brooklyn’s Park Slope and began a major renovation. Contractors cleared out the inside of the house and replaced water-damaged floors, doors, sections of wall, cabinets and appliances. They also sealed cracks and packed the walls and ceiling with high-quality insulation.

Three ceiling-to-floor windows give a view of the backyard and are triple paned, as are other windows throughout the house. The high-quality windows and doors block out drafts and nearly all outside noise.

Fifteen solar panels power the nearly 2,200-square-foot home. To comply with city regulations requiring six feet of open roof space, the installer placed 12 panels on the upper roof on nine-foot, metal trusses. Three additional panels hang from the edge of the roof, forming an awning and bringing the generation capacity to 7.3 kilowatts.

The panels cost $46,000, but an incentive from the New York State Energy and Research Development Authority and various tax breaks reduced the cost by half.

The solar array is net metered, meaning that when the panels produce more power than the house is using the customer sells the excess into the Con Edison grid.

The energy savings will pay for the improvements. After moving into the house last July, the family had several months of Con Edison electric bills for just the monthly connection fee, plus a few pennies.

Nearly zeroing out the bill is an impressive accomplishment for a family of four living in a house stocked with appliances, air conditioning and electric heat.

Con Edison encourages customers to consider solar energy and customers like Krochmal have responded. Customers in the five boroughs and Westchester County have completed more than 42,000 rooftop projects with the capacity to produce nearly 400 megawatts of clean, renewable power.

Those projects prevent the amount of greenhouse gas emissions that 78,000 passenger vehicles produce in a year.

The Krochmals are also taking advantage of heat-pump technology to heat and cool the home. A second air-source heat pump runs the clothes dryer on the second floor.

Energy efficiency is a key part of Con Edison’s Clean Energy Commitment. The company offers incentives for energy efficiency upgrades in homes, multi-family properties, small businesses and larger commercial and industrial buildings. Con Edison hopes to triple energy efficiency programs and invest $1.5 billion by 2025.

The company’s programs include incentives for geothermal and air-source heat pumps.

Con Edison is a subsidiary of Consolidated Edison, Inc. [NYSE: ED], one of the nation’s largest investor-owned energy companies, with approximately $12 billion in annual revenues and $63 billion in assets. The utility delivers electricity, natural gas and steam to 3.5 million customers in New York City and Westchester County, N.Y. For financial, operations and customer service information, visit For energy efficiency information, visit Also, visit us on Twitter and Facebook.