Northeast HVAC News Guest Column
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.
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:// www.firedragonent.com/ 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
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.
continues below ↓
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 www.FiredragonEnt.com. Copyright 2011, George
Lanthier, HVAC Insider, First Serial Printing.