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Smart Radiator Covers Help a Manhattan Co-op Cut Emissions

Emily Myers in Green Ideas



Cozys at Inwood Park Apartments improve the look of the old radiator covers and are cutting the co-op's fuel costs and carbon emissions. (Photo courtesy Kelvin)

Unable to electrify or convert their oil-burning boiler to gas, the board at Inwood Park Apartments in uptown faced a conundrum. Converting their oil-burning boiler to gas was too expensive — as was electrification — so how could the 50-unit co-op cut carbon emissions and reduce Local Law 97 penalties? The affordable answer: smart radiator covers.

The smart radiator covers were installed at the six-story building over a period of two weeks and involved the custom fabrication of 150 insulated metal radiator cabinets, known as Cozys. The covers are equipped with a duct, fan and sensors and trap the radiator’s heat, releasing it based on the preferred settings of residents in each unit. “The fan will regulate the temperature and keep the room at the desired set point,” says Matthew Isaacs, vice president of business development at Kelvin, which manufactures the covers.

The major benefit of the Cozy system is how it affects the building’s steam condensation rate.  “The radiators are now in this insulated environment, so steam is staying at steam temperature for much longer and therefore returning to the boiler at a much slower pace,” Isaacs explains. As a result, the building’s boiler is boiling a lot less water during the heating season. 


In addition, the building upgraded the boiler’s heat timer for around $7,000 to increase the efficiency of the radiator covers. Most boilers have a heat timer, which turns the equipment on and off based at a minimum on outside temperature sensors. By integrating the heat timer with the Cozys, the timer gets even more accurate data from multiple radiators in every apartment. Jeremy Foster, regional manager at Heat Timer Corporation, which upgraded the heat timer, says this allows the boiler to switch on and off “much more intelligently.” As a result the boiler at Inwood Park Apartments is running four or five less heating cycles in a day. 

The Cozy system cost $143,382 and was funded by the building’s reserve fund. The result for the co-op is a 26% reduction in oil use, cutting the amount of oil purchased from around 23,700 to 17,400 gallons. This equates to annual savings of around $24,000. 

The 38,505 square-foot co-op did not qualify for any incentives because the co-op’s boiler runs on No. 4 fuel oil. Con Edison does not offer financial incentives for upgrades that are tied to the functioning of oil-burning boilers. No. 4 fuel oil is being phased out by the city, with buildings like Inwood Park Apartments having to switch to another heat source by July 1, 2027.


Converting the co-op’s boiler from oil to high-pressure gas would have come with a $3 million charge from Con Edison, something the co-op could not afford. Likewise, upgrading the electrical capacity is prohibitively expensive. “All over the city, buildings are being quoted $1 million, $2 million, $20 million to upgrade the electrical capacity,” says Valerie Corbett, an account manager with the city-run NYC Accelerator program, who worked closely with board president Hal Fuchsman to figure out Local Law 97 compliance routes. 


“With the Cozy system, the building is in a better position,” Corbett says. She adds that the co-op’s next step will be to switch to the cleaner No. 2 fuel oil. “It’s encouraging,” says Fuchsman, who hopes the wealth of data from the Cozys will give the board a better idea of the building’s heating needs. “In two or three years' time when we have no choice but to replace our boiler, we can make a more informed decision,” he says. This might allow the building to downsize to a smaller boiler. 

In the past year, the co-op also completed a $900,000 roof replacement and insulation project using funds from an additional mortgage. Based on energy data from 2019, the building was facing annual Local Law 97 penalties of $20,300. Property manager, Valon Rexhepi with Pride Property Management, is confident the upgrades have eliminated that penalty for the first compliance period from 2024 to 2029. “Some winters might be harder and we’ll have to burn more oil,” Rexhepi says. “But if we burn 17,000 gallons of oil, then we are way below the carbon emission threshold.”

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