Heat-Timer® Corporation

Steam Heating is Here to Stay?

According to a 2019 report by the Urban Green Council, 80% of multifamily buildings in NY are steam heated and of those, 73% of residents in steam-heated buildings are chronically overheated. Here at Heat-Timer®, this is an all too common refrain we hear from many older commercial steam heated building operators.  Many of America’s aging steam systems are oversized or mis-calibrated resulting in the classic, “let’s open the apartment window in the middle of winter or turn on the air conditioner.” You can almost tell from the outside, what NYC apartment buildings are steam heated by driving by and seeing how many windows are open on a cold day. 

Ironically, while 63% of folks in the study reported opening their windows to cool off, the systems are “so unbalanced that other residents in these same buildings don’t receive enough heat”, the report wrote. For NYC recently though, the greatest concern is carbon emissions. Commercial buildings are New York City’s largest source of carbon emissions, and 62% of the fuel burned by the city’s residential multifamily buildings goes to heating steam. That’s a lot of unnecessary dollars spent on fuel bills.

To combat the effects of carbon emissions in the city, New York has enacted Local Law 97, a series of measures and timetables that will make NYC (all 5 boroughs) completely carbon neutral by 2050. Under LL97, most buildings over 25,000 gross square feet that exceed emissions limits will face significant annual fines beginning in 2025. Some think that means steam’s days may be numbered here however most people who understand the situation in NYC’s building inventory understand that the infrastructure of steam is too pervasive, huge, and costly to simply be replaced, especially in older buildings. Instead, the smart money is on making those systems more efficient.

Most experts recommend that buildings make “no-brainer upgrades” to their steam systems which could include vents, piping, radiator valves, integrated temperature sensors and yes, boiler heating controls that improve both fuel performance and comfort for residents. These kinds of upgrades are way less expensive than conversion projects yet can finally allow residents to shut their windows in the winter and allow building managers and owners to run their steam heating infrastructure much more efficiently and cheaply.

Full Steam Ahead with Heat-Timer®?

A new generation of HVAC techs are seeing the opportunity to learn to work on these older steam systems. Dan Holohan is a recognized expert in steam heating systems writing nationally for many industry trades. Holohan, is retired now but says that while he agrees with the new regulations, he believes steam could offer the city the efficiency it’s looking for – if people could just learn to use it right. Before he retired, Holohan helped a historic Manhattan building tune up its steam system, which was “gorgeous and original to the 1890s”, with “extremely beautiful” radiators. “The system is absolutely quiet. It’s very fast. It’s extremely efficient. We did that, and it gets no attention.”

One thing that has gotten attention is the ability for Heat-Timer® Platinum Series Internet Controls to take a big bite out of the costs of steam heating, even if you make no other steam related improvements. These controls communicate to  wireless sensors that are strategically placed throughout the building enhancing the operational control and increasing comfort and fuel savings at the same time.

Class leading, internet and mobile enabled Heat-Timer® Platinum Series controls are a perfect step toward the optimization of your steam heating system and achieve dramatic reductions in carbon emissions.

Internet Control Building Energy Management Features

Heat-Timer® has several variations of its internet controls that work with steam heating systems of just about every variety, from single steam boilers to more complex multi-boiler systems. They can also be configured to control motorized steam valves.  Just a few of the reasons Heat-Timer® leads the pack in heating controls are below:

  • Class leading, field tested algorithms for boiler control including outdoor reset and wireless remote sensors shown to save anywhere from 15% to 50% yearly on heating bills.
  • Wireless temperature sensor feedback makes for easy retrofit and improves boiler efficiency even further over base control.
  • Remotely access multiple systems in multiple buildings or boiler rooms through a mobile app or convenient internet portal. Full Control, complete monitoring.
  • Configurable Alarm notifications on SMS or email enable preventative maintenance.
  • Advanced energy reporting and comparison features to address government inspectors and resident complaints.
  • Instantaneous feedback and change control to/from remote devices.

Summer is the perfect time for your heating system upgrade. For more information on how Heat-Timer’s Internet Controls can breathe new life into old steam heating systems and take a big bite out of LL97 emission reductions required by law, call us today.

973 575 4004