Getting more out of your new heating system

PG&E
Heating system

Space heating takes up a lot of space on your energy bill. It accounts for 36 percent of the total energy used in commercial buildings, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. If your boiler or furnace is older or in need of repair, upgrading to a new, high-efficiency system can really save you money. A system upgrade is a big expense, however. It makes sense to maximize your investment. Here's how.



Crunch the numbers


If you're not sure that now is the right time for an upgrade, a life-cycle cost analysis (LCC) can help you make that decision by estimating the total financial impact. Costs include the initial purchase and installation, financing, operation and maintenance, as well as disposal. An analysis involves adding these costs and discounting them to their present day value. These estimates can help you choose between different energy investment options.



Lose the heat loss


The most efficient heating system will be rendered less effective through poor insulation or heat loss through your building envelope. Before you upgrade, hire a qualified professional to perform an energy audit of your facility. The auditor will ensure that wall and ceiling insulation meets recommended levels for energy efficiency and identify gaps and cracks where heat can escape. By implementing the energy-saving recommendations of your audit, you can optimize heating system performance, save money and increase building comfort.



Get the right fit


You've decided to upgrade; it's time to make sure your new system matches your heating requirements. Oversizing is a common mistake when installing new equipment—a mistake that can increase costs and reduce efficiency.


Installation contractors often check the nameplate of the existing unit and size accordingly. While this may serve as a starting point, it shouldn't be the only sizing method used. Take into account changes in facility use or occupancy levels since the last installation and any recent energy efficiency upgrades. To size your heating system correctly, consider the following factors:


  • Local climate conditions
  • Building size and orientation
  • Facility type, as well as primary processes and activities
  • Number of occupants and their comfort preferences

Proper sizing requires good communication with your system installer; asking questions helps to ensure your new heating system matches your needs. The Building Energy Software Tools web directory provides links and descriptions of software for calculating heating and cooling loads.



Keep a good thing going


Your new heating unit is in place. These measures will help improve system performance and save energy:


  • Establish a preventive maintenance program. Implement a regular schedule of cleaning and maintenance by a qualified professional. A checkup will ensure more efficient operation and reduce maintenance costs.
  • Install programmable thermostats. These devices can reduce heating costs by automatically adjusting building temperatures based on occupancy or operating schedules.
  • Inspect and repair steam traps. For boiler systems, failed steam traps reduce efficiency by allowing live steam to escape. Regular steam trap maintenance can save a significant amount of energy and money.
  • Implement boiler reset controls. These controls save energy by matching the supply of steam or hot water with the demand for heat based on the outdoor temperature.

By selecting the right heating system for your needs and following up with regular maintenance and targeted upgrades, you can minimize operating costs while optimizing comfort and your return on investment.


© Questline Inc.