As most apartment building managers will tell you, energy costs are one of the most significant operating expenses in commercial buildings. Inside those energy costs, heating and Domestic Hot Water are two of the most significant expenses, especially in older buildings constructed before energy efficiency standards were established.
In the past, the primary way to reduce heating costs was through major investments in new boilers, piping, valves, radiators, windows and building insulation. While these investments can certainly be warranted, especially if your system is more than 15 years old, that didn’t always fix the problem with apartment 2E being so cold, and 4H being overheated.
Smart building controls with internet accessibility and wireless space sensors have given building managers another option. With smart building controls like the Heat-Timer® Platinum series for boiler management, or the Heat-Timer® ETV for control of Domestic Hot Water. You can significantly reduce energy costs, and fix the hotspots in your building without necessarily needing to tear up the building and mechanical room infrastructure.
Here are four ways that you can take advantage of smart controls to reduce your building’s energy consumption for both DHW and boiler heating:
1. Install an Electronic Tempering Valve Control
People are predictable. They sleep at night, get up and take a shower and go to work or school. Then they come home and make dinner and wash the dishes. An electronic tempering valve with setbacks, like the Heat-Timer ETV Platinum Plus can take advantage of that predictability. It can be programmed to reduce the output set point of the circulation loop during low demand times, and raise it during high demand times. Lowering the temperature of the water in the long building wide loop reduces radiation losses which saves energy.
2. Add A Heating Control with Outdoor Reset Capability
One of the most effective ways to save energy is to add outdoor reset to your steam or hydronic heating system. The Platinum series controller by Heat-Timer® learns how the heating needs of the building vary with outdoor temperature and then fine tunes the steam boiler cycle time or boiler water temperature so that building radiators provide more heat during cold weather and less heat during mild weather. The controller’s goal is to use just enough energy to keep the building at the optimal temperature, without overheating it on milder days.
Setting back the building temperature at night when residents are tucked into their beds can reduce energy use even further.
3. Monitor the Temperature inside the building with Wireless Room sensors
The limitation of outdoor reset is that it can predict heating needs for the entire building, but it does not know what is happening inside various parts of the building. A network of interior temperature sensors can give the controller that kind of information.
Installing wired temperature sensors throughout the building can be expensive, time consuming and messy. The smart solution is to use a wireless network specifically designed for reliable communication through walls and floors. The Heat-Timer® wireless network is designed to penetrate through buildings and interfaces easily with the Heat-Timer ® Platinum controller, allowing it to further optimize the building temperature.
For building managers, the addition of room sensors is actually a requirement of most energy rebate programs. Depending on the utility company, you can sometimes recover most of your installation costs by installing an advanced heating control with space sensors covering 25% of the building, depending on the rebate.
4. Now, balance the system
The network of wireless temperature sensors throughout the building gives the building manager another opportunity to save energy and increase tenant satisfaction by balancing the building heating system.
The Platinum series allows the building manager to download historical temperature data to an Excel spreadsheet. Once a building manager or heating contractor analyzes the temperature data, balancing a heating system is straightforward, and improvements can be measured after just a few heat cycles.
Steam systems can be balanced by adjusting air vents in the steam main and individual radiators. Hydronic systems can be balanced with manual balancing valves and booster pumps when required. Balancing the heating system alone can save 5%-10% of the annual heating costs, for minimal investment.
In Reality, Adding Smart Heating Controls to Any Commercial Building is a No-Brainer
When one considers the potential for utility company rebates, the raw cost savings on your monthly energy bills, and the ease of wireless installation and internet/ mobile app based controls and monitoring, your only question should be what system will do the best job in your building.
A smarter building is a more efficient building. Call Heat-Timer® today to discuss your building’s energy use issues, we can help.