Anyone who has taken a ride on the London Underground knows that it can be a sweltering experience – even in the dead of winter. Right now, all of that sweaty heat is going to waste while folks above ground throttle the thermostat to warm up their homes. That gave London’s mayor and a city think tank a great idea: harness the heat of the Tube to warm London residences.

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The plan was created in collaboration between Mayor Boris Johnson, Islington Council, UK Power Networks and Transport for London. The project will divert heat from a large ventilation shaft to a thermal network that connects to hundreds of homes. The scheme is the first of its kind in Europe, and it’s part of the Mayor’s initiative to reduce carbon emissions in the city by 60%.

Not only will the plan cut energy bills, it will also help ease the city’s severely taxed energy network, which is particularly important since London experienced one of its coldest winters ever last year (and this year is shaping up the same). “We need to do everything possible to create a more secure, cost-effective and sustainable heat and power supply for London. By supporting locally sourced energy and heat networks which can reduce bills and lower carbon emissions, we can not only save money but also drive innovation, jobs and growth in this burgeoning sector,” said Matthew Pencharz, the Mayor’s senior advisor on environment and energy.

Via Grist