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Bitcoin Mining Heats Up the Water at New York City Spa, Inviting Controversy

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A bathhouse and spa based in New York City, named Bathhouse, recently disclosed their unique practice of using a small-scale bitcoin mining operation to heat their pools. This news, shared via an Instagram post, incited a fair share of controversy. The spa claimed that it operates on a Bitcoin Standard and accepts Bitcoin payments.

Located in the stylish Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn, Bathhouse took to social media to elucidate their unusual practice. The heat generated from their bitcoin mining activities serves to warm up their pools, with the water later being used to cool the mining hardware. “Enjoy a hot pool while supporting the Bitcoin network,” their post noted.

The physical structure of computers executing the Bitcoin network’s computational process is known as a Bitcoin mining rig. These systems utilize significant electricity, produce heat and noise, and necessitate cooling solutions such as the one used by Bathhouse to prevent overheating and maintain efficiency.

Bathhouse’s unique approach to heating was implemented in March 2022. Speaking to publication Decrypt, they shared that the founders were intrigued by the potential implications of this technology for humanity and were exploring energy-efficient solutions. The spa is now convinced of the viability of Bitcoin mining and believes that their technique could find wider application in heating and hot water solutions for buildings. Bathhouse has also expressed a willingness to share their findings with interested parties.

Bitcoin mining involves specialized computers, known as ASICs, vying to find a specific number roughly every ten minutes. This proof of work process rewards the miner who solves the SHA256 algorithm with Bitcoin, accounting for the energy expended. Presently, the reward stands at 6.25 BTC per block, with a planned reduction by half next year. You can check out our list of the best Bitcoin mining sites here.

Enjoy a hot pool while supporting the Bitcoin network.

However, the concept of Bitcoin mining continues to be a contentious topic, a fact highlighted by the reactions to Bathhouse’s social media post. Criticisms ranged from concerns over the identity of the miners and the beneficiaries of the profits, to calls for greater transparency. Some even questioned the idea of bitcoin mining as a status symbol, suspecting it to be a poorly-thought-out joke.

Nevertheless, the announcement did garner support from the Bitcoin community. Bradley Rettler, known as one of the “bitcoin philosophers” from the group Resistance Money, responded positively to the Instagram post, expressing gratitude for securing the network, opposing authoritarianism, and promoting financial freedom.

A Lawsuit Against New York PSC Over Bitcoin Mining Plant Approval Filed by Environmentalists

New York has a history of controversy involving Bitcoin mining and environmentalists. Cryptocurrency mining is largely prohibited in New York. Earlier this year, we reported that environmentalists initiated legal proceedings on January 13 against the New York Public Service Commission (PSC) due to its approval of a bitcoin mining plant acquisition within the state. The PSC, responsible for public utilities supervision, authorized the transformation of the Fortistar North power plant into a cryptocurrency mining facility in September 2022.

The lawsuit alleged that this approval contravened the 2019 New York climate law. The Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA), among its various goals, intends to ensure zero-emission electricity production by 2040 and aims to reduce the state-wide emissions by 85% by 2050.

The plant, located in Tonawanda, less than ten miles from Niagara Falls, was set to be acquired by Digihost, a Canadian cryptocurrency mining company.

In the legal challenge, Earthjustice, representing the Clean Air Coalition of Western New York and the Sierra Club, asserted that the Fortistar plant was formerly used only during periods of high energy demand, such as severe weather. Contrarily, they claimed that its intended operation as a cryptocurrency mining facility would be round-the-clock, potentially resulting in greenhouse gas emissions up to 3,000% higher.


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