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Co-generation unit produces hot water and great savings in JCHE senior housing

Posted: February 20, 2013

In April 2012, JCHE began operating a Aegis, 75kW co-generation unit in our Ulin House property.  A co-gen unit takes natural gas and, using a diesel engine, produces electricity.  As a result of running the engine to produce electricity, heat is generated by the engine.  This heat is captured and used to heat domestic hot water in the summer and hot water for our hydronic baseboard heating system in the winter. 

At the time JCHE looked at installing a co-gen unit, there was no information on the efficiency of a unit in an elderly housing project.  It was widely thought that elderly tenants would not use enough hot water in the non-heating months and therefore the heat generated by the unit would be “wasted” thus lowering efficiency.  Initially, we decided not to risk precious capital for a system that may or may not work for us.

Fortunately for us, our sales representative Greg Hammond, believed that the system would be beneficial in our housing.  He identified a $56,000 rebate from NSTAR but even so, the cost to JCHE would have been $210,000.  Working with The City of Boston, Greg and JCHE were able to identify a pool of grant money left from the ARRA Stimulus package that covered the remaining cost of the unit and the unit was installed and began operating in April 2012.

We have just received an analysis of our first 10 months of operation.   The co-gen unit has saved JCHE $34,618 or about $3,500 per month on average.  For the month ended January 6, 2013, our savings were $6,998 so our annual savings should be well over $45,000. 

If JCHE had paid for the unit, and taken advantage of the NSTAR rebate, the payback period would have been approximately four and a half years.  Now that we know a co gen unit will save us money, we are looking to install units in each of our other Brighton buildings.

Tabetha McCartney, JCHE's Preservation Manager
February 22, 2013


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