Often times as an organization looks at ways to conserve energy for
a given facility, independent systems are broken into small subgroups
and new technologies are "fit" into the picture as applicable. For example,
with regard to electrical systems, what often occurs is that a facility
manager is given the task to "reduce consumption". The manager is
then faced with deciding where to start, and what options make the most
sense. The most glaring
technologies available typically becomes lighting systems (no pun
Plenty of new lighting technologies exist which present themselves as
seemingly "easy" retrofits. Once a decision is made to proceed, the facility manager
must coordinate fitting hundreds, if not thousands of new light fixtures
or elements, over a period of time, which often becomes months or even
years. The labor and man-hours in implementing these types of "systems"
can be staggering, and most often achieve a very slow payback once completed.
When energy consumption is viewed from the broader aspect as a facility
system, lighting is typically found to be less than 20% of overall load
in most facilities.
Yet, the incentive is there to reduce energy consumption "somehow", so the
projects are developed using the best methods believed achievable. This is not to say lighting retrofits are not
beneficial, but in most cases it can or should be viewed as a very slow
way to reduce energy consumption and get a reasonable pay-back.
It is a matter of how much "bang you get for the buck", and
how quickly you get any bang at all.
When organizations begin looking at the real energy-hogs
related to fuel
consumption, the "bad guys" often becomes the boilers and
cooling towers. New
trends show that large boiler plants are being replaced with multiple
smaller boilers to better size capacity to load or heating demand.
It is an easy task to show that boilers operate most efficiently when
they run closest to maximum output, which simply means when they run all
the time. Modulating burners are being heralded as the solution to
further matching capacity to load. Replacing boilers with newer,
smaller, and more efficient boilers, or upgrading existing systems to
the newer modulating
burners, is very costly. Savings returns for modulating boilers over the
same units configured as a multi-stage units is typically projected
as being well over ten years or more, yet the boiler manufacturers are
happily guiding clients to purchase their most expensive wares as a way
to help their clients feel "energy conscious".
Often times, great lengths are taken to increase building "envelope" efficiency,
such as better glazing, insulation, doorways, etc., however it seems that the
boiler system itself is most often thought to be operating at it's
maximum design efficiency, and not much can be done to improve how it
behaves. In most cases, this could not be further from the truth! It seems very odd
that very little help is provided to clients when it comes to discussing
ways to improve these systems efficiency in simple and cost effective
- The most significant "energy hog" in regard to boiler efficiency is scale
formation in the heat exchangers. A boiler system with only 1/8"
of scale has lost over 20% of it's operating efficiency. A 1/4" of
scale is literally robbing your boiler of over 32% efficiency. This
should be a shocking fact for any facility manager to consider!
Because scale formation is cyclical (from cleaning to cleaning), one
must understand that the very day a boiler is cleaned, it is again
heading toward operating at significantly lower efficiency.
Generally what the facility manager has to decide is, "how often do
we clean?" Most facility managers may be surprised to find
that they could be cleaning the systems many times as often and
still achieve lower operating costs when you factor in the energy
consumption costs for not cleaning as often. The question is,
do you pay in labor, or do you pay the utility company. Typically this problem is considered a task for the "chemical guy" to
deal with, so we have created the first subdivision of the "systems"
operational responsibilities. The chemical guys.
- The next most significant energy hog in regard to boiler efficiency
is the stack. When boilers are designed and tested, the unit is
placed in a lab environment with a 2' stack, which is vented to a hood
which has a slight draw to take the gasses out of the room. The
manufacturer tests the amount of fuel going in, and the amount of heat
coming out, and gives their product an efficiency rating based on the
findings. The fact is, when this same boiler is placed in a
facility, no design factors whatsoever have been taken into account for how the
stack will effect the boiler 's operational parameters. The
architect has carefully designed a stack for the facility which will be
sufficient to draft the plant per climate baselines and maximum expected
load during the coldest climate periods. Then maybe he throws in a little
extra volume capacity "just in case" the mechanical engineer
decides to specify a little larger boiler plant than needed (which
in many cases happens as well). As a heating plant system
design is put together, no direct correlation between boilers and stack
design ever takes
place in most cases! What an organization ends up with is boilers running at
significantly lower than specified efficiency directly due to the excess stack
draft conditions designed into the facility. This is most often considered the architect's or mechanical engineer's
problem, hence we have our next subdivision of the systems operational
responsibilities. The Architects and Building Engineers.
- Next in the line of energy-wasters is the boiler control system
itself. Much effort is taken
in subdividing space-heat areas into zones, since we all know that if
you don't send as much heat to an area, less energy is required.
Strangely enough, not much is done to control how a boiler is reacting
to the load in the first place. A little intelligence in the
boiler control system in regard to load control can go a long way to improve how
the boiler is reacting. What do we typically have in control of how a boiler
reacts? Usually all that is in charge here is a simple thermostat
saying "turn on" when it feels cold, or "turn off" when it is
The stat has absolutely no idea of what is occurring out in the zones,
or why all of a sudden it feels cold or hot!
What you end up with is boiler short-cycling. The zone controllers, in the meanwhile, are busy little bees trying to
keep their occupants comfortable and happy. The boiler gets the
brunt of the deal, constantly firing and turning off in a feeble attempt
to provide heat as it thinks is needed "out there in the system",
however all the information it has to go by is from the boiler stat. It is literally fighting a battle with one arm
tied behind it's back. If you stand real close, you can hear the boiler
saying "if I only had a brain!". We know that when your
organization broke out the checkbook for your boiler, you thought
the manufacture already gave their boiler a brain. Oh well,
this is where the third subdivision of system operation
responsibilities lye. The boiler manufacturer themselves.
Now that we have outlined the problems and why
they occur, what can your organization do about it?
This is where we come in! We look at your heating plant as an
overall system. The
technologies we are able to put on the table independently deal with each of
the problems identified above, but when viewed as a "system", these
technologies can, and will, have a tremendous impact on how your plant operates in
regard to efficiency as a whole.
Ask yourself this question.
Would a race team put together a car without matching all the engine
components for maximum output? A racecar is a SYSTEM, with careful
attention paid to the engine, exhaust, control module and other systems,
and ALSO how these systems affect each other as a whole. This is
our approach to maximizing the efficiency of a facility system.
First, we eliminate all limescale from the system to keep the
heat-exchangers operating at their maximum capacity by implementing
Next, we eliminate excess stack draft by implementing the Stack
Draft Regulator (SDR) system. Now we have a boiler operating as close to
manufacture specifications as you can get, but we don't stop there!
Finally, to wrap it up, we give the boiler a brain by
implementing our Savastat LC unit to control how the boiler reacts
to varying loads, in real time. Oh happy day,
when your boiler gets a brain! Now the boiler knows when
to fire and how long to fire under all the varying conditions
it encounters. Slick idea, huh? You may have thought the
manufacturer would have thought of this for us! The bottom
line is, they simply do not care how efficiently the boiler operates
in your facility. Once they put the energy sticker on,
their job is done.
When we have completed Step 3 above, your
organization will have a system which could well be operating at over
50% greater efficiency than before we started! Sound too good to
be true? WE WILL SHOW YOU! Actually, your energy
provider does most of the work for us in showing the results, since you
will quickly see the difference on your monthly bill!
If any other vendors or consultants can offer the solutions to the
problems we have outlined above as an integral system or otherwise, we would
highly recommend that you use them. The fact is, they don't exist,
and this is probably why you still are facing these problems!
Contact us today, or better yet, fill out and submit our
Feasibility Study Agreement so we can begin to work with your
organization to achieve energy efficiency at a level you once thought
impossible to obtain.
Note: If your organization is currently engaged in constructing an
EMS to meet ISO-14001 specifications, or simply struggling to meet up to
your current EMS, we can help you meet these goals! Give us a call