Looking for a
July 20, 2006 9:16 AM   Subscribe

8 unit condo in Jersey City needs an energy (HVAC, heating) consultant to look at our boiler and heating system and advise us on how to lower our heating bills. We are keen to consider green options but economy is the main criterion. Thank you for your recommendations and advice.

In our building we are currently collecting $$ to replace the oil boiler that fires our central heating. I'm a little concerned given the price of oil and want to be certain that our building is optimized for energy conservation. Do you know any consultant/expert who can survey our building and heating system and make recommendations?

Its an old building, the thermostat is in the hallway, the radiators are vertically integrated with no control valves. Which means that in Winter some apartments are overheated and leave windows open and some are cold.

We'd certainly consider going as green as possible and (before you mention it) have already looked at revofuel though its a bit young at this point in terms of available resources. Thanks for any recommendations on where to find the expert we're looking for.
posted by johoney to Home & Garden (1 answer total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I've got a 21-unit in Jersey City (heated by natural gas), and wrestled with this problem for many weeks after the big post-Katrina gas spike.

After extensive googling, I wrote up notes the following suggestions (which apply both to gas and oil heating systems, mostly):

-Thermostats on each radiator (approx $40 per therm.) Called "thermostatic radiator valves." (trv's) Just keep radiators from overheating, don't control distribution.
-Check positioning of outdoor "weatherhead" that controls heat timer (if not in the sun, etc.)
-Set hot water to 110 ~ 125 degrees (not higher)
-Get "buildingwide energy assessment"
-Use "heat computers" to check for energy levels at different parts of building
-Shop for lower gas prices

The buildingwide energy assessment would be perfomed by a consultant -- I think you could find one by googling. But I came to the conclusion that I could do this assessment on my own, by looking at the windows, verifying the placement of the weatherhead, etc.

The big move I'm making, which involves capital outlay, is the installation of a "heat computer." This consists of sensors in each apt on the top floor that read the heat in these rooms, and automatically turn off the boiler when the readings are too high.

Since heat rises to the top of the bldg, the topfloor apartments are generally overheated, and their tenants open windows to compensate. Supposedly, by turning off the boiler over and over again when the heat is too high, we save mucho cash in comparison to the standard system, under which the boiler runs constantly, regardless of how much heat is bled outside through the wasteful "system" of tenants opening windows on the top floors.

This method sounds better than tweaking the individual radiators, which doesn't control the bleeding of excess heat through open windows.

The company I'll contract with is called "Optimum Applied Systems" (non-disclaimer: I've got no connections with these folks and only stumbled on them through google), and they savings should run to 25% or more. Installation approx 5K, annual fee of approx 3600 (in my case).

The savings won't be huge at these numbers, but I'm thinking that it's a positive "defensive" move to protect against huge spikes due to hurricanes, the middle east situation, and the like.

Please post your ideas too.
posted by Gordion Knott at 3:07 PM on July 20, 2006 [1 favorite]

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