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Energy conservation is more critical as fuel prices rise.

The cost of heating multi-family buildings during the coming year may rise by as much as 20 percent now that the OPEC nations have decided to curtail production of fuel oil.

Owners and managers are responding by stepping up their efforts to make their properties more energy efficient. They recognize that new boilers, new burners and thermal windows, while helpful, are not enough in themselves.

These basic measures must be supplemented with: (1) proactive round-the-clock monitoring and control of heating and domestic hot water systems; and (2) systems that monitor and record the delivery of fuel oil. These automated systems, along with engineering support, are part of a total energy management program developed by U.S. Energy Controls.

Fuel Computers

U.S. Energy fuel computers, installed at more than 2,000 properties in New York City, are reducing heating fuel consumption by as much as 40 percent or more, while keeping apartments comfortably warm. These automated energy and water management systems eliminate the primary cause of wasted heating fuel, overheating of apartments, which occurs in buildings that still rely on rudimentary heat timing devices to control boiler cycling.

Heat timer devices are basically simple thermostats that turn on boilers whenever the outside temperature falls below a statutory level - 55 degrees Fahrenheit daytime in New York City. As long as the temperature stays below 55 degrees, the boiler continues to cycle, even long after a building's interior is comfortably warm. As a result, apartment temperatures can rise to as high as 85 or even 90 degrees. Tenants open their windows to cool off, which means that fuel is actually heating the great outdoors. Moreover, this extra cycling means more wear and tear on the boiler, which can reduce its life span by as much as 20 percent.

U.S. Energy fuel computers respond to inside temperatures as well as outside temperatures. Air temperature sensors placed at strategic locations inside and outside a building provide the fuel computer continually with the data needed to control boiler cycling. They activate the boiler whenever apartments need heat and turn it off whenever apartments are heated to a preset level typically 70 degrees Fahrenheit. The key is to set the temperature to the building owner's comfort level.

Centralized Control

This is one of the 24 set points that are controlled by owners and managers right from their offices using Windows 98-based telecommunications to contact the heat computers installed in their buildings. They, and not the tenants of the building or the superintendents, determine the temperature and all other system parameters.

They also are able to monitor heating and hot water systems at all of their properties by telephone. The fuel computers respond by generating printed reports on heating and hot water system operations - inside and outside temperatures; stack temperatures; pressure time; hot water temperatures at the boiler coil and mixing valves; domestic hot water and cold water consumption; unauthorized system overrides, etc.

These reports enable managers to detect and identify problems in these systems and take prompt corrective action. Warning alarms in fuel computer systems can be set to alert owners of problems or to automatically call an outside maintenance company when a serious problem requires immediate attention. These systems are instrumental in helping knowledgeable managers/owners to balance the heat in their buildings.

Water Savings

Fuel computers also help control water costs by indicating whether water consumption has risen above a baseline. At some buildings, these automated systems are equipped with alarms that alert building supers when water usage rises above the normal amount as determined by the computer system. They also pinpoint leaks in condensate return lines, which can waste thousands of gallons a day if they are not detected and corrected.

One of the most popular and obviously helpful tools of these systems is the boiler make-up water feature. It solves a hidden problem that causes boilers to rust and fail excessive burning of fuel - and the high cost of replenishment water.

Many busy owners and managers prefer to rely on engineering support from U.S. Energy Controls for the diagnosis of problems revealed by heat computer printouts and recommendations for correcting them. Under this arrangement, U.S. Energy makes needed adjustments without charge. If repairs are needed, the engineering staff identifies the problem, recommends the most cost-effective solution, and, if requested, identifies providers of the needed repair services.

Accurate Deliveries

Rising oil prices are an increased incentive for getting all the oil that owners and managers pay for. Fuel computers have been augmented by a Fuel Delivery Sentry that monitors and records existing levels at the time of delivery and the gallonage delivered by the oil supplier. It also indicates when oil is running low.
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Title Annotation:Focus on Property Management: Preparing for 21st Century
Author:Jabbour, Elie
Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Date:Apr 21, 1999
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