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Computer scanning and control is key to lower water and fuel bills.

Whether you own a single apartment building or manage a large number of multifamily dwellings, round-the-clock computerized monitoring and control offers an effective way to cope with the huge potential for waste inherent in the everyday operations of steam heating and water circulating systems.

This has been demonstrated at more than 2,000 properties in the New York metropolitan area, where U.S. Energy fuel computers have reduced the expense of heating by 40% or more in many buildings.

These savings result from a number of operating changes based on information provided by fuel computers. They first become apparent when a fuel computer is installed to replace the timing controls that permit boilers to cycle even after building interiors are comfortably warm. Overheating apartments wastes vast quantities of fuel, wastes the electricity to run the boiler, reduces boiler longevity, and makes tenants so uncomfortable that they open their windows wide on winter days to get rid of the excess heat.

By monitoring boiler operations 24 hours a day and automatically shutting off boiler operations whenever interior temperatures reach a preprogrammed level, fuel computers eliminate this waste.

Information on outside and interior temperatures is supplied to the computer by temperature sensors. Correct heat balance in all the apartments of a building can be assured by installing indoor temperature sensors in every top floor apartment. The fuel computer uses the information from these sensors to determine whether an imbalance exists.

If so, it can be corrected economically by replacing small radiator air valves with larger ones, or possibly insulating walls and adding radiators instead of incurring the much greater expense of increasing the heat in an entire building for the sake of a single apartment.

Steam heating and hot water systems are fairly complex, and their malfunctions usually cannot be detected by simple observation. Leaks from condensate return lines in steam heated multifamily buildings are a case in point. Thousands of gallons of water can leak every day from a condensate return line buried under concrete or in a remote location. These leaks can go unobserved because the boiler water is constantly replenished automatically with new cold water or manually by a building superintendent. Besides the enormous waste of water, there is the waste of fuel used to reheat the cold replenishment water.

A U.S. Energy fuel computer detects these leaks as soon as they occur and indicates the need for immediate repairs.

Similarly, fuel computers prevent the destructive effects of overly hot water by monitoring the temperatures of the water in the boiler and the water coming out of the hot water coil, as well as the highs and lows of water temperatures, the length of time the water temperature falls below set point, and the time of day it does. All of this data enables management to determine whether the boiler needs cleaning and whether there is actually a need for replacing coils or mixing valves.

Fuel computers give building owners and managers a view of the internal operations of the heating and water systems of a virtually unlimited number of properties, as well as the ability to program and modify these operations right from a management office. Data from a fuel computer at each property is automatically telephoned to management offices using Windows 98 software. Any or all of the computer parameters at each site can be reprogrammed by telephone. Further automation is available with an automatic call-out from a fuel computer directly to the appropriate service when a heating system requires immediate servicing any time of day or night. During business hours, management offices are able to keep abreast with steam heating and hot water system operations by polling each fuel computer by telephone and obtaining a printout of the incoming data on an in-house printer. These printouts also serve as a history of heating system operations, which can be used in court to disprove unjustified tenant complaints about insufficient heat.

Although dollar savings are their primary motive for building managers who install fuel computers, they are also provided with the peace of mind of knowing that the heating and water systems at their buildings are operating as efficiently as possible and providing tenants with the heat and water they need.
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Article Details
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Author:Jabbour, Elie
Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Nov 6, 2002
Words:704
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