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Northeast HVAC News Guest Column

WGreen Everything!
by George Lanthier.

WI donít know about you but sometimes I get fed up with hearing about the whole Ďgreení thing. Green cars, green houses, green fuel, green everything. Whatís sad is that this is really nothing new, itís just recycled stuff from the 1970s with a new buzz word to sell more of us on conservation and energy savings. The new Ďgreení word is also to get the Generation Xers and the Millenniums to maybe do more than us older generations have done for planet earth.

Although I may get sick of hearing about green, energy conservation, greening, recycling, etc., it not only makes sense for the environment, but also for the consumerís wallet so itís here to stay again, well at least for a year or two! Iím going to focus on whatís new again and see if this makes sense to you. To try to accomplish an efficient or Ďgreení home the best and still biggest bang for the buck is insulation.

Iíve tried it all, new equipment, setbacks of every kind, zoning, you name it, and insulation still works the best! When sizing a new home heating appliance, furnace or boiler, or a replacement, the key is a good heat loss/ gain calculation. When figuring retrofit equipment make sure to ask lots of questions, people have tightened their homes, a lot! The best data into a heat loss program leads to the best heat loss/gain and a provable number that just may put you ahead of the competition when competing on price.   

Then, size your equipment to no more than 125% of the heat loss obtained and you are green. Itís a lot better than sizing by the rating plate or any other stupid non-scientific method because calculations work and math doesnít lie. Weíll come back to this later in steam, but if you want to take a heat loss/ gain course get in touch with us.

We have them in our schedule at http:// FDSchedule.htm and we talk about steam systems too! First things first. Clock or setback thermostats work, Figure 1, but even if they didnít the basic element of energy conservation is to try and stop the thermostat from firing the burner, oil, gas, whatever.

In addition, many will tell you they donít work with steam, radiant, etc. and thatís just not true! They work with any type of system and any type of fuel; itís percentage of setback that matters, itís that simple and weíll cover that in another article soon.

When it comes to warm air, the biggest culprits here to not being green are dirty fans, ducts and filters. If all of these are kept clean and all of the accessories, (air cleaners, and humidifiers) are there and are working properly thereís not much more you can do. Warm air is simple, and although many wet-heads donít like to hear this, warm air is the true 600 pound gorilla of heating in the USA due to the immediate and inexpensive ability to air condition, but it wonít work right with dirty filters and fans that look like Figure 2. Steam is a bit more complex than air systems, but still simple.

The biggest thing when replacing a steam boiler is to ask about missing or removed radiators and again whatís been done to the house for insulation. Although you still must do a good, accurate EDR (Equivalent Direct Radiation) survey itís nice to know what youíre up against. Consider building into your steam boiler estimate not only the essential and possible addition of main vents, but also replacing every vent on the job. Vents are the indispensable control in a one-pipe steam system and will improve comfort, reduce fuel usage and help the greening process.

All of my jobs included new vents and I still hear from my customers how happy they are 20 years later. Dump the conventional and often inaccurate pressuretrolsģ and only use 16 ounce vaporstatsģ. Keep the pressure under one psi with a wide differential (12 ounces), use a good probe type low water cutoff and thatís it for steam controls.

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     Check t h e w a t e r pH level of your boiler. Make sure itís clean after about a month of hard winter like operation. The pH should be between 7 and 11 for most steam systems and you can find a great pH tester, Figure 3, on my website. Good, clean water is essential to making good steam. A great steam install versus an average install is to put a flush valve in place of the skim valve.

When your skimming is done put a small length of scrap hose on the boiler drain and on the low - watercut off flush valve. Make sure both of these are ball valve type , Figure 4 . Show your customer how t o use them and try to emphasize the importance of flushing both valves every week. I use to find telling them they will save money worked best.

Thatís it for steam, down and dirty and no rocket science involved. F i n a l l y, h y d r o n i c s o r water systems. Although steam can be zoned at each radiator, and you can zone warm air just like water, floor by floor and room by room, most of us in wet heat love our water systems. We donít know why and it just may be that we prefer, l i k e p l u m b e r s , t o b u r n o u r fingers instead of cutting them.

Thereís really not much for me to say about greening a water system that hasnít been beaten to death by others, so do a little reading, offer your customers lotís of options and look into the indoor, boiler and outdoor reset o p t i o n s . Today t h e r e ís more reset options than ever and you have to find the best solution by 2012 w h e n t h e F e d e r a l l a w cuts in. See ya.

* G e o r g e L a n t h i e r i s the owner of Firedragon Enterprises, a teaching, publishing and consulting firm. He is an industry trainer and the author of over 25 books on oilheating and HVAC subjects. He can be reached at 608 Moose Hill Road, Leicester, MA 01524. His phone is 508-421-3490, fax at 508- 421-3477 and his web-site and chat room can be found at Copyright 2011, George Lanthier, HVAC Insider, First Serial Printing.



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