With the holiday season at an end, it’s time to think about resolutions for the new year. Is saving money on your list? Here’s an idea. How about saving money on boiler operation? By reducing the energy consumption in your boiler room this year, you could significantly lower the operating costs at your facility.
The following are tried and true ways of putting dollars back in your pocket. This is not new information and there is no magic, but by following these tips, you could reduce costs in your boiler room.
There are two areas of operation that you control that directly affect your boiler’s efficiency and therefore, your fuel bill. If you aren’t paying close attention to these, you could be sending money up the stack!
Boiler Combustion Tune Up
Excess air is the amount of air supplied over the minimum amount needed to completely combust fuel in a boiler. Too little excess air means the fuel will not completely combust, which can create soot and/or carbon monoxide. Too much excess air means excess heat is sent out the stack, which creates an efficiency loss. If you haven’t had a burner tune-up within the past year or your boiler operation has changed significantly, it’s time to have it tuned. If you reduce your excess air from 30% to 15%, you can save $100 dollars for each $10,000 in fuel cost (1%).
Scale on the waterside of your boiler and soot or ash on the fireside of your boiler creates an insulating layer on these surfaces. This slows down the heat transfer from the gas to water and raises your stack temperature (and costs). Each 40°F rise in exit gas temperature results in the same 1% boiler efficiency loss as above. You can maintain your boiler at its peak efficiency by a) maintaining a water treatment program to prevent scale build up, and b) tuning the burner to prevent soot build up. During your annual inspection or when the boiler is down, check the waterside of the boiler for scale and the fireside for soot.
Have you ever said this? “I know that I should check my traps, but I don’t have time.” Steam traps that are open or not working properly can pass steam right into the drain. If you haven’t checked your steam traps in three years or more, the odds are that 15% to 30% of them aren’t working properly – and you are sending your dollars down the drain with the steam. If you have 50 traps in a 100 lb steam system, you could be losing $15,000 per year. Maybe taking the time to check your traps is worth it after all.
In the rush to get things running again, re-insulating pipes after a repair or mishap is often neglected. This is especially likely in hard to reach places. For that same 100 lb steam system, a 2 inch pipe that is uninsulated for 50 feet can result in you losing about $600 dollars per year from the energy required to make up for the lost heat. Installing insulation is simple and affordable, yet can result in a substantial return on investment.
Start the year off right – at least in your boiler room
Why not resolve to take the time and invest in your operation to save money? Start your new year off with energy savings and start slimming down your energy budget. How do you plan on saving money on your energy costs this year?
© 2014 The Hartford Steam Boiler Inspection and Insurance Company. All rights reserved. This article is intended for information purposes only. HSB makes no warranties or representations as to the accuracy or completeness of the content of this article.