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Efficiency funding for steam heating bias...Its time for change!

I've been constantly running into walls with energy efficiency programs not providing equal opportunities for funding efficiency upgrades for steam....there is a clear bias against these upgrades here in Illinois and apparently at the federal level.   There are requirements for third party certification, but no steam heat certification.   The program gives paltry amounts for major efficiency upgrades (such as going from atmospheric gas boilers to power burner boilers) that appear based upon erroneous efficiency data.  There is nothing for upgrades to modulating burners and other system side upgrades such as installation of orifice plates, conversion to vacuum operation, etc.

I suspect it is similiar elsewhere.

Steam is being legislated out of existance by biased program funding.

I think its time to begin making a widespread effort to get these programs changed so that the large numbers of steam heated buildings in our Northern Urban cities get the attention they should.

Please e-mail me if you want to begin discussing what can be done to turn this around or start adding to this thread.
The Steam Whisperer (Formerly Boilerpro)

Chicago's Steam Heating Expert





Noisy Radiators are a Cry for Help

Comments

  • furnacefigher15
    furnacefigher15 Member Posts: 514
    what

    do you have in mind?



    I'm also in the Chicago area. I'd be happy to help in any way I can. I'm also a key member in my local RSES chapter, and could try and spread awareness that way.



    Dave
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 16,728
    I'm in

    call me when you get a chance.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
  • What to do......

    I am hoping to see a generation of ideas of how steam heating professionals can begin coming together to effect positive change.  Toss your ideas out here and start putting together lists of those people that may be interested in turning the tide.   I have been thinking for a long time that a new organization needs to be formed to represent the steam heating industry and promote better testing standards for equipment and for technicians.  There appears to be no voice for the efficiency, reliability and comfort benefits of steam to counteract the false notions that steam heating is antiquated and inefficient.

    I started already by calling my congressmen, and you can too, to begin shaking cages about the bias in funding....but there is a lot more to be done to reverse all the misinformation about steam heating.
    The Steam Whisperer (Formerly Boilerpro)

    Chicago's Steam Heating Expert





    Noisy Radiators are a Cry for Help
  • furnacefigher15
    furnacefigher15 Member Posts: 514
    edited March 2012
    I think it needs to

    Start with hard data.



    I personally do not work on steam systems everyday, but I imagine there may be a few here that do quite often.



    Take a building that you run across in rough shape, and let it stay rough for a season and log the fuel consumption during that time.



    Then make the planned updates (better air venting, better pressure settings, modulating, or staged burners, atmospheric vs power burning etc...)



    Or the same concept done in a lab setting say at a trade school, or if there is a power burner rep or manufacture, maybe they could help.



    I would think a power burner company, or a maybe someone like Honeywell might stand a considerable gain in units sold if burner upgrades were being made, backed by government spiffs to building owners.
  • Agreed...

    and some of that has already been done.  Check out MNCEE and there testing over the past 20 years on steam system upgrades.
    The Steam Whisperer (Formerly Boilerpro)

    Chicago's Steam Heating Expert





    Noisy Radiators are a Cry for Help
  • Mark Eatherton
    Mark Eatherton Member Posts: 5,853
    Your group needs a name and a catchy acronym....

    Maybe something like HISSED (Historically Installed Steam System Efficiency Distributors)



    As has been pointed out, you need powder for your bullet, like therms per square foot per occupant per degree day. You have an uphill battle in front of you. Best of luck in your adventure.



    ME
    It's not so much a case of "You got what you paid for", as it is a matter of "You DIDN'T get what you DIDN'T pay for, and you're NOT going to get what you thought you were in the way of comfort". Borrowed from Heatboy.
  • Thanks Mark.....

    Only I am not only looking at no only working towards improvements to old installations, but beginning to promote new installations.  I have already seen strong interest in my market, once the benefits of steam are pointed out.  We need to get therms per square foot AND  kwh per square foot.... the electrical usage, as you know, is being left out of the equation.  Also radiant comfort and freeze protection, quick response, et el.  longevity of equipment.

    IN the words of Bartles and James "Thank you for Your Support!"
    The Steam Whisperer (Formerly Boilerpro)

    Chicago's Steam Heating Expert





    Noisy Radiators are a Cry for Help
  • ttekushan_3
    ttekushan_3 Member Posts: 958
    steam calibration protocol

    You make an outstanding point.  Steam heating carries a yoke around its neck that it doesn't fully deserve.  Like every other medium, steam for heating purposes has strengths and weaknesses.  In my experience of tuning steam heating systems, the strengths far outweigh the weaknesses in comparison to other heating media. Several percentage  points difference in boiler efficiency is not adequate to determine how efficiently the system will operate.  



    [Steam heating also presents interesting opportunities that are totally unutilized at the present time And, if I may be so bold, we should propose NEW methods for steam heating in modern buildings and homes to demonstrate its advantages that most are not aware of.  Maybe that would get somebody's attention. But that is a subject for another post.]



    Since there is DEFINITELY a bias against steam heating, I think we are stuck having to develop a protocol for the economization of existing steam heating systems.  The most difficult task is to question the validity of boiler efficiency numbers as the sole method of determining systemic efficiencies.



    Then there's money.  We have to convince the relevant stakeholders in the Heating Industrial Complex (HIC) that they will be able to sell stuff to bring about these refinements.  I like the idea of engaging burner manufacturers (for modulation and sealed combustion), in addition to oil boiler manufacturers (for gas conversion certification in steam apps), maybe we need to be thinking of electrically actuated solenoid valves for both the purposes of steam orificing/metering and zone control.  Perhaps the manufactures of Occupancy Sensing Zone thermostats could be engaged as well.  Dare I mention ODR for staged pressure levels in calibrated-inlet steam systems?



    We need to articulate some New Rules for steam heating that brings into play the products of a range of those in the HIC.  In the short term, we have to offer upgrades that have some quantifiable benefit  at a superior rate of return to any other option.  In the long term, we need to propose something more radical.  Again, that is the subject of another post.
    terry
  • ttekushan_3
    ttekushan_3 Member Posts: 958
    Are you ready

    for that other post yet?   In it I discuss new systems ideas that definitely address the point that ME brings up.  Don't want to hijack this.
    terry
  • Probably that would be best on a seperate post

    so the discussions don't get too mixed. 
    The Steam Whisperer (Formerly Boilerpro)

    Chicago's Steam Heating Expert





    Noisy Radiators are a Cry for Help
  • Mark Eatherton
    Mark Eatherton Member Posts: 5,853
    edited March 2012
    Be careful what you ask for...

    I love my wife. WIth that said, I have to walk around behind her shutting off lights and appliances. Old habits are hard to break. I am resorting to the new technology of motion detecting switches. I think you get my point.



    My suggestion would be to take into consideration the parasitic costs of operation, but instead of attempting to extract it from the electrical bill, calculate the power consumption at "design condition". You would be able to show the potential parasitic cost per hour of operation. Steam systems do have a minor parasitic cost of operation (transformers, intelligent makeup water controls, LWCO's etc), but they would still be SIGNIFICANTLY below their competing systems.



    Should show some interesting situations. I think you also need to include some out of control (TURNED IT UP!!!) scenarios too so that the associated costs of bringing these systems under proper control (turning of a screw driver) are taken into consideration, and also act as a public service notice to many unknowing technicians and homeowners, Education is key, and as we know here, education as it pertains to the older steam systems is extremely limited, because most of those who know, are on the other side of the dirt (Dead Men).



    Also need to take DHW into consideration, because it is a part and parcel of the operation of physical plant, and again, my wife takes a bath DAILY (at night to relax her) and that accounts for more fuel consumption. Your survey should include THAT question as it pertains to hot water use (bathers versus showerers).



    I'd be glad to participate on the modcon part. I have many years of accumulated fuel consumption data, and the degree days of exposure are accessible.



    ME
    It's not so much a case of "You got what you paid for", as it is a matter of "You DIDN'T get what you DIDN'T pay for, and you're NOT going to get what you thought you were in the way of comfort". Borrowed from Heatboy.
  • Larry Weingarten
    Larry Weingarten Member Posts: 3,237
    Another approach...

    ... is to become active in ASHRAE or other body that affects code.  The National Renewable Energy Lab is in process of updating their standards  http://nrel.pnnl.gov/forum.php.  Attending Affordable Comfort, http://acinational.org/ which is happening very soon in Baltimore will surround you with people from all walks with similar concerns, who might be able to help. 



    But, I do like HISSED!



    Yours,  Larry
This discussion has been closed.