Published onOctober 30th, 2023
El Nino Is Coming to NYC: How This Weather Pattern Will Affect Your Heating System This Winter
New York City is no stranger to cold winters. Still, El Niño occurs every three to five years, bringing warmer temperatures and a wetter season. This shift in climate patterns can mildly affect heating demands. Knowing El Niño’s effect on heating systems can help property owners avoid high costs and limit problems of system strain.
Explore what El Niño means for your building’s heating system. Also, learn how you can prepare your property for the winter months.
El Niño’s Effect on Heating Systems: How the Climate Shift Influences Heating
What Is El Niño?
El Niño is a climate pattern in the Pacific Ocean that can affect weather patterns worldwide. In a typical year, trade winds blow west across the Pacific following the equator. The winds push warm water from South America toward Asia, allowing cold water to surface in the process in what is known as upwelling. El Niño interrupts the usual pattern.
During this climate pattern, the trade winds weaken, allowing warm water to push back toward the west coast of the Americas. The warmer waters encourage air pressure changes, resulting in the Southern Oscillation, and jet stream shifts, causing the Pacific jet stream to move from its neutral position south. The result of the changes and shifts is a dryer and warmer winter in the northern U.S. and Canada, with occasional and intense nor’easters.
What Is a Nor’easter?
A nor’easter is a term for low-pressure systems that form storms along the east coast of the U.S. “Northeast” refers to the system’s wind direction.
El Niño can increase the intensity and frequency of these low-pressure systems. The warm water shifts in the Pacific release more heat into the atmosphere, increasing the likelihood of warmer weather. Still, that warmth does not guarantee a mild winter.
What Is El Niño’s Effect on Heating Systems?
On average, El Niño winters are between 4°F and 5°F above normal. The average winter temperature for NYC is between 25°F and 40°F, so that during an El Niño event, the average temps fluctuate between a low of 29°F and a high of 45°F.
The intensity of El Niño events varies. While average changes are low, a severe event can cause increases of 14°F to 18°F. Warmer events can limit the use of heating systems, reducing typical strain. Still, the overall impact is minimal, meaning landlords and property owners must still prepare their heating systems and limit heat loss to brace for demands.
Winter’s Effect on Heating Systems: How Cold Weather Influences Demand
Why Is Heating More Expensive Than Cooling?
Heating a property with a steam, oil, gas, or electric boiler is more expensive than cooling it. Heating systems must bridge a wider temperature gap than cooling systems, meaning heating is a more energy-intensive process.
Cooling a home by even 5°F to 10°F in the summer is enough, but heating a home the same number of degrees in the winter is not. When it is 20°F or 30°F outside, you cannot only heat your property to 35°F or 40°F; this would be illegal, unethical, and risky for the property and tenants.
El Niño’s effect on heating systems is generally minor. The demand for heat increases as the temperatures decrease, and this climate pattern will not dramatically affect tenant heat demand during the winter because temperature only fluctuates a few degrees on average.
Heat Demand and System Stress: How To Reduce Excessive Demand and System Strain This Winter
Minimize Heat Loss
Heat loss is a significant contributor to heating costs and system strain. The more heat that escapes a property, the harder the HVAC system has to work to replace it and maintain temperatures in the property.
The most common causes of heat loss are windows and doors. Cracks or poor seals around frames can allow heat to escape or cold air to enter. Also, thin doors or old windows may not offer enough insulation from the frigid exterior temperatures. As a property owner, consider replacing old and ineffective materials. More affordable measures include installing new weatherstripping or hanging heavy-duty curtains.
Install Smart Thermostats
In NYC, property owners must maintain indoor temperatures between 62°F and 68°F during the heating season. Smart thermostats can help you automate temperature control settings, ensuring the building is always within the allotted range without wasting energy. Tenants can also adjust temperature settings, allowing their units to be cooler when they are not home. Smart thermostats can allow for individual customization to offset El Niño’s effect on heating systems.
Add or Update Insulation
Depending on the type of insulation in your property, you may need to replace, add, or update it. Some insulation materials, such as rigid foam board, last up to 100 years, but others, such as fiberglass insulation, only last 15 to 30 years.
The quality and density of insulation can play a role in reducing heat loss throughout the property. If you have not replaced insulation in your property, look into its history to determine when you should.
Schedule Routine Maintenance and System Inspections
The boiler in your building is the key to your heating system. A commercial boiler can last up to 20 years or more if you take care of it. That said, boilers require annual maintenance and inspections for peak performance.
A licensed and certified boiler technician must perform annual inspections and services. Typical inspections and services should assess corrosion and debris buildup, burners, heat exchangers, scale buildup on the water side and the presence of soot on the fire side, and should check the gas regulator pressure settings.
Calray Boilers: How Inspections Can Reduce El Niño’s Effect on Heating Systems
Annual Service Contracts Keep Your Boiler in Shape
El Niño’s effect on heating systems in your property might be minimal. Still, you never know what winter will bring. On average, NYC experiences cold temperatures with heavy snowfalls; while there might be some fluctuation during an El Niño event, you still need to prepare for typical conditions. Contact Calray Boilers at 212-722-5506 to schedule a system inspection and discuss annual service contracts, ensuring your boiler is always in peak condition.