December 20, 2013

Boston, MA—Think of a boiler room and your first thoughts may not pleasant. Harsh lighting, incessant noise, and—most likely—a massive boiler thundering below a maze of pipes, ducts, wires, and other mechanical systems. Although out of sight to most building occupants, commercial boiler systems offer large energy savings, and the combustion efficiency of the boiler units is Gas boilers are often old and oversized. Source: iStockPhotonormally the top consideration. But there is another factor too often overlooked when boilers are selected for retrofits or new construction: correct boiler size.

Recognizing the energy wasted by oversized boilers, CEE approached commercial boiler manufacturers and other technical experts to ask for their perspective on how to correctly size commercial boiler systems. The goal was to drive a common approach to address this issue for CEE members running commercial boiler efficiency programs.

The response was impressive. Manufacturers and design engineers from across the industry agreed that oversizing is endemic, and rightsizing offers significant energy savings. Various methods designed to calculate heat loads are too often overlooked.

The greatest revelation was not just about boiler technology or sizing calculations. Instead, it refocused the conversation on maximizing energy efficiency and cost-effectiveness of the entire system.

Traditionally, boilers are sized for the highest load, which typically means the coldest day of the year. The energy efficient solution is sizing for the most common conditions of the year while a backup or legacy unit carries the extra load for extreme temperatures. This approach results in a smaller, less-costly condensing unit that offers the greatest efficiency over the greatest number of operating hours. This is achieved with a hybrid or mixed technology system that combines condensing and noncondensing units. The next step is to find a way for members to quantify the savings resulting from a hybrid design.

CEE enables organizations to act together in ways that move national markets toward greater efficiency. It allows manufacturers to come together to solve a problem in a trusted environment. As a result, society benefits when our understanding of “rightsizing” expands to offer new approaches for energy efficiency programs to save energy, lower equipment costs, and improve the cost-effectiveness of efficiency programs across the US and Canada.

About CEE
CEE is an award-winning consortium of efficiency program administrators from the United States and Canada. Members work to unify program approaches across jurisdictions to increase the success of efficiency in markets. By joining forces at CEE, individual electric and gas efficiency programs are able to partner not only with each other, but also with other industries, trade associations, and government agencies. Working together, administrators leverage the effect of their ratepayer funding, exchange information on successful practices and, by doing so, achieve greater energy efficiency for the public good.