As a commercial building owner/operator you know that operating budgets are being pinched at the same time that volatile fuel pricing in the marketplace compound the issue. All this has the effect of squeezing your profit margins. Energy costs quickly get out of control, and it can be difficult to pinpoint what is driving them upwards. Experts at Heat-Timer® have been at work on the bleeding edge of energy cost reduction and energy efficiency for over a century and below we share some perspective and a few simple tips to help monitor and react to rising energy costs.
Energy Cost of Building Heating Systems
The cost of heating in the colder climates of the USA is often the most significant energy expenditure in your building’s portfolio. Therefore, small gains in performance can translate into big financial savings. While much of heating system optimization is in the realm of professional HVAC technicians, there is some low hanging fruit for building operators. Below are a few easy observations in your building and the boiler room that can help keep you on top of problems before they cost you big dollars.
Items to keep track of for the building are:
- Fuel Consumption – Is your fuel consumption high compared to previous years? A comparison of therms used per heating degree day for each month can highlight when system performance started to suffer and help pinpoint problem areas.
- Hot / Cold Calls – Are building users reporting hot / cold spots throughout the building? Tracking these, and understanding how these spots reveal issues in the distribution system can make finding issues easier. Cold spots might indicate an air lock somewhere in the system, whereas hot spots might be caused by control valves that have failed open.
- Heating Equipment Scheduling – Does your heating equipment run at the same schedule / setpoints when the building is unoccupied? Significant savings can be realized with simple set-backs without disruption to building occupants.
Items to watch for in the boiler room are:
- Shortcycling – Is your equipment turning on and off frequently? This behavior is an inefficient way to meet load, and puts a strain on equipment, leading to shorter service life.
- Water leaks – Water leaking from a distribution system is a sure sign of BTUs being paid for and wasted. Tracing back leaks is good for energy savings and for safety in the boiler room.
- Flame condition – The color and shape of the flame in your boiler can highlight issues with your fuel delivery, air delivery, or drafting. Ideally a short well defined blue flame will be present. A red or orange flame, or a long wispy flame, are indicators of inefficient combustion.
- Stack condition – The color of exhaust coming out of the stack can also highlight combustion issues. Incomplete combustion means you are sending BTUs, and dollars, right out of the stack.
Energy Management Systems
More and more in 2019, building operators are installing some form of energy management system for their HVAC. An Energy Management System (EMS) can diagnose and even predict issues throughout the building.. Modern digital control systems can be easily scheduled, and reset back to unoccupied set-points. Short-cycling might not be obvious if you enter a boiler room for only a few minutes a day, but a quick plot of the system status that is available from your heating control system, will show how the unit has performed over time. A more integrated system can provide an output of all valve positions with temperature rises across the coils they serve, which can quickly show which valves are leaking and may need to be replaced.
Heat-Timer® boiler controls are an example of a robust heating control solution that can provide a these useful streams of data. Heat-Timer® controls can operate at a “heating system only” energy management system and can even be integrated to common industry EMS or BMS systems through standardized interfaces. Through a series of remote wireless sensors, and motorized valves, complete multi-room information is available in one place. Add to that the ability to receive all this information, alarms and settings on your cell phone, iPad, or desktop computer, and you have a completely modern solution to heating control.
Building Operators Trust Heat-Timer®
Heat-Timer® is dedicated to providing the highest quality heating controls on the market. Our team of technical experts can help you choose the right controls package for your building that will optimize heating performance and will reduce energy costs and hot/cold calls to the maximum extent possible. Our controls are the most sophisticated in the market. When you speak to your HVAC contractor about heating automation, ask for Heat-Timer®
Contact us today and speak to a technician or visit our website at https://www.heat-timer.com.