Welcome! Here are the website rules, as well as some tips for using this forum.
Need to contact us? Visit https://heatinghelp.com/contact-us/.
Click here to Find a Contractor in your area.

Why are energy efficiency standards so far behind the technology?

AJinCT
AJinCT Member Posts: 157
So I was talking to a friend who is studying public policy about my parents' new oil fired Buderus boiler, and the oil systems I've lived with, and how inefficient most oil fired boilers are. After I explained the science to him, he asked me why the government AFUE standard is so badly hosed. I explained all of the different parties involved in determining standards, testing boilers, making boilers, and selling boilers, and how oil is a relative niche in the US as a whole. However, it left me wondering why our energy efficiency standards for boilers, water heaters, A/C units, heat pumps, and the like are so far behind the times as a whole. I'm excluding steam boilers, since they are not only a tiny niche, but it's fundamentally impossible to make an efficient gas steam boiler, and there are some installations where it is cost prohibitive or just plain impractical to convert to a modern forced hot water system.

If you look at oil boilers, you run into the AFUE problem. It's worse than the old CAFE standards for cars, which was nonsense in it's own right. Energy Kinetics has exposed these standards for how useless and downright misleading they are, and how bad traditional oil boilers perform if they aren't insulated and controlled properly, yet companies like Weil Mclain are able to keep selling boilers that are totally obsolete, have real efficiencies that are 30%+ lower than their AFUE ratings, have the god-awful tankless water heater, and a lot of consumers just don't know any better than to keep buying them versus Energy Kinetics or Buderus.

Gas boilers are even more amazing. We've had 95% boilers for a long time, and yet the standard is 82%. Consumer awareness may be better than with oil, since modern gas boilers physically look very different from an old CI clunker design, save space, and have a higher AFUE rating to boot, so people will choose the one that's 11% higher because bigger is better in America, not realizing it's actually 30% higher in practice.

Now the standards actually are going to go up on gas furnaces, but only in another 5 or so years, and they've been fighting for years. How hard is this? Every major furnace manufacturer has furnaces that are 96% or higher.

And now water heaters. Atmospheric gas tank water heaters? Seriously? These things were obsolete long ago. The electric side is a bit better, but all of the standards on water heaters are weak tea compared to the technology that's widely available.

And don't even get me started on air conditioners. For a country that is not only rich and largely located in a warm climate, our standards are way behind the technology. 14 SEER? Every major manufacturer has 20 SEER split systems that are heat pumps too. Considering the future of energy, why do air conditioners even exist? Heat pumps make sense almost anywhere an A/C unit makes sense. They can always just be used as supplemental to a gas or oil boiler or furnace.

So the question is, where is the public policy failure in regulating boiler, A/C, and water heater efficiency? Why is so much inefficient stuff allowed to still be out there on the market, even though it's technologically decrepit? Why do manufacturers who can and do make super efficient stuff oppose stricter efficiency regulations?
«13456713

Comments

  • Brp814
    Brp814 Member Posts: 22
    I agree with what you are saying, but the simple answer is MONEY! While 90% efficient furnaces have been around for approx 30 years, not everyone can afford them or wants them, and not every contractor wants to up sell. If I were to guess, only in the last decade have newer homes been built with high efficiency equipment, but "builder grade" models only. The only way to change this is to call your local representative, and demand new standards.
    As for A/C units? It is the same thing. Most people want the 14 SEER stuff, not the 20 or higher. It costs too much, and they may not see a return on their investment for a long time.
  • BobC
    BobC Member Posts: 5,473
    People tend to buy whats cheap when it comes to heating equipment. If it's not hanging on the livingroom wall they want something that's cheap and works reliably. For the record I've had to have my steam system repaired once in over 30 years, I had it cleaned yearly when it was oil.

    In years past too many people got bit when they paid for high efficiency heating systems and got no where near the projected savings. Most of this was because the installation was not done right but that still leaves a bad taste in ones mouth.

    Say what you want about standard tank gas hot water heaters but mine uses 6 therms a month to make my hot water. When I had my boiler replaced a few years ago I looked into indirects and realized it was not a viable option for modest hot water needs. Efficiency is nice but cost does factor into decisions like this.

    Bob
    Smith G8-3 with EZ Gas @ 90,000 BTU, Single pipe steam
    Vaporstat with a 12oz cut-out and 4oz cut-in
    3PSI gauge
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 16,728
    edited February 2016
    We've covered the AFUE situation before. It was originally conceived to cover scorched-air furnasties and someone got the idea to apply it to boilers. Furnasties and boilers are two radically different things, so a one-size-fits-all approach doesn't work.

    The other problem with AFUE is that it does not address total system efficiency. So you could put in a 90%+ furnasty but with the typical slapdash ductwork your overall system efficiency would be much lower. Steam and hot-water systems can achieve much higher overall efficiencies because their distribution systems are much more efficient.

    90%+ IS possible on steam. It has been done, just not in the U.S. and not using condensing technology. Your assumption regarding steam boilers is just plain wrong. And if your knee-jerk response to steam is to convert it to hot-water, I hope you have a good lawyer because you WILL be liable for any problems such as leaks, not enough heat etc.

    But, you say, it'll save so much energy. Up to a third, maybe? Well, we fix steam systems and get similar savings, for a lot less cost. Read 'em and weep:

    http://forum.heatinghelp.com/discussion/145002/actual-savings-over-steam-heating

    The biggest problems with current-generation 90%+ technology are lifespan and venting. Some mod-con boilers have had very short-lived heat exchangers, and when a heat exchanger leaks you need to replace the entire unit in most cases. Then there are issues with other parts, since a lot of them are proprietary so, for example, if a Burnham unit needs a new igniter and you have one for a Weil-McLain, it won't fit. This can be a nightmare for those of us who service them. Contrast this with cast-iron boilers that last for decades, and use standard parts that are readily available. BTW, ISTR reading that in Europe if a boiler is much older than five years, you have to replace it instead of fixing it if it breaks down. Do you really think that would fly here in the States?

    Also, in existing buildings, you have to find a good place to exhaust these units. Some inspectors will allow just about anything, but if you terminate your intake and exhaust pipes a foot above grade and your area can get up to three feet of snow (which I see a lot), do you really think it won't cause a problem? Or if you locate them too close to a door or window, or a neighboring building? OK, in some cases you might be able to run your pipes up the chimney, but then you have to replace the water heater too.

    And don't get me started about using PVC for exhaust gas venting.

    I could go on, and probably will if this thread keeps going, but that's enough for now.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
  • njtommy
    njtommy Member Posts: 1,105
    Some time high efficiency is just plain not worth it. depending on where you live and your utility usage it's flat out not worth the price increase for the equipment.
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 22,928
    It would be very nice indeed if one could deal with reality -- such as my 90 year old steam system with, I'll grant you, an only 9 year old boiler. Which gets an actual, real world measured gross efficiency of 83%, determined by total energy in (higher heating value of fuel plus electricity) to heat out. For the non-thermodynamic types, this works out to approximately 99% efficiency , based on the lower heating value of the fuel (#2 oil). The comment that this can't be done with a steam boiler is obviously false, and would be humourous if it weren't so widely accepted. At which point it becomes tragic.

    Would it be possible to raise that to say 95% based on the higher heating value? That would involve applying a condensing preheater to the return condensate, in order to recover the higher heating value of the fuel. However, this being the real world, one has to consider -- if one is honest -- the additional cost and complexity of the condensing preheater and its controls, and the energy to run it, not to mention the resources used to manufacture the materials which would need to be used.

    Could you tear out the steam system and do better with hot water? Flatly, no. The cost would be prohibitive, not to mention the waste involved in all the new material needed and scrapping all the old material. Further, the system would have to be designed to keep the boiler condensing at all times, including maximum load.

    Is it possible in a new build to do much better, in terms of gross energy use for a building? Yes. No argument. It's expensive, but it can be done.

    Unfortunately, policy decisions are driven by people with little or no engineering experience, never mind real world field experience, and we get -- and will continue to get -- regulations mandating impractical or impossible targets as a result.

    I'd better stop. My blood pressure is rising...
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
    Solid_Fuel_Manexqheat
  • What is worth the effort is to have whatever system you wish to be installed, to be installed by someone who knows how to do it.
    Most off the requests for advice here are because of imperfect installation.
    In regard to steam, in large cities such as NYC, we have had questions from tenants, as well as building owners about steam problems.
    When those problems continue without solution, the building seems doomed to use much more fuel than needed.
    If the present collection of steam heating systems could be inspected by qualified inspectors, (where will those be found?), would that solve the energy problem?--NBC
    exqheat
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 16,728
    AJinCT, I think it's time you put your cards on the table. None of us know who you are or what, if any, credentials you have.

    I doubt you're a contractor, because of the questions you asked in this thread:

    http://forum.heatinghelp.com/discussion/157186/buderus-logamatic-2107-with-hydro-air

    Yet here you are lecturing us?

    We don't have a problem with people asking questions- that's one thing the site is for- but this board is home to some of the best and brightest in the industry. We work with this stuff every day- and during the winter, sometimes at night too.

    Your experience with steam seems to be restricted to a college dorm whose system doesn't sound like it's working as it should. This is typical of school and public buildings, where maintenance and optimization are dirty words.

    So c'mon- let's hear what qualifies you.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 22,928
    @AJinCT . I'm sorry, but, bluntly, you don't know what you are talking about. There is one sentence in you critique of my comment which shows that, but if you can't find it, I'm not going to help you. As @Steamhead just said, time to put your cards on the talbe. Lay 'em down, tell us what your qualifications are and who you work for.

    Thank you.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • Chester
    Chester Member Posts: 83
    Without getting into the dark side of this debate :) I just wanted to express my view that, as a homeowner, I think it's great when the Board gets into a discussion about energy efficiency.
    Jean-David BeyerGordy
  • SWEI
    SWEI Member Posts: 7,356
    The building is a system. The appliance is but one component of that system. Metrics such as BTUs per square foot per degree-day (or kW, which makes it easier to include electrical use) tell the real story. Using those to drive codes and rebates may not be practical -- yet.

    {dons flamesuit} Just tax the fuels as needed to support the portion of our defense budget their acquisition consumes.{/flamesuit}
    Gordy
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 22,928
    Hey, @SWEI -- never mind the defence budget -- how about roads and bridges? Resource extraction remediation? (ducks behind wall to avoid barrage)
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
    Jean-David BeyerGordy
  • sunlight33
    sunlight33 Member Posts: 378
    edited February 2016
    Consider the US uses about 140 billion gallons of gas each year, if the government puts a tax of $1/gallon, there might be a chance of paying off the national debt after 140 years or so, assume the debt remains at 19 trillion as of today.
    And by the way, I find the theory of fossil fuels come from dinosaurs bogus, there just couldn't be enough dinos to make trillions of gallons of fossil fuels.
  • bmwpowere36m3
    bmwpowere36m3 Member Posts: 512
    Dinosaurs? Any organic matter... can become fossil fuels.
    Rich_49
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 22,928
    Fossil fuels didn't come from dinosaurs -- that's a delightful fable. They came from swamps -- several hundred million years earlier...
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
    Leon82Jean-David BeyerRich_49
  • Chester
    Chester Member Posts: 83
    Most people don't think about it this way but I believe we have a very well-defined energy policy in this country. It's basically 'use as much as you can afford'. That's just the way it works in a market-based economy where you don't have rationing or heavy-handed govt. restrictions on the personal freedom to have big cars and big houses and heating swimming pools all winter. Appliance efficiency standards, CAFE requirements and building codes are a useful but far from perfect way to achieve certain public policy goals.
    Hatterasguy
  • vvzz
    vvzz Member Posts: 39
    > So the question is, where is the public policy failure in regulating boiler, A/C, and water heater efficiency? Why is so much inefficient stuff allowed to still be out there on the market, even though it's technologically decrepit? Why do manufacturers who can and do make super efficient stuff oppose stricter efficiency regulations?

    Why do you insist on a government getting even more involved in people's lives. When did that ever work out well? Even in your post you mention that AFUE ratings are wrong. Those were designed by the government.
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 15,462
    edited February 2016
    After seeing two 1920s Monitor Top refrigerators that were still working fine pulled from people's homes by First Energy to be replaced by "more efficient" machines which actually use two to four times as much electric and will die without a doubt in the next 10 years I lost faith in the entire system.

    Not to mention it seems that more efficient appliances typically take more energy to make, and fail far more often so what exactly is being saved? Certainly not landfills.


    I'll be keeping my 80+ year old refrigerators that consume significantly less power than modern ones and whatever else I deem fit for my home.

    Want to save energy? Why are we keeping a ton of streets and parking lots lit all night long? Many say it's to keep crime down but I'd love to know what kind of power it's sucking down while 90% of people are in bed. They tell you to switch to CFLs and turn lights off when you're not in the room, but let's keep that parking lot running high pressure sodium lamps lit all night!
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • Jason_13
    Jason_13 Member Posts: 304
    edited February 2016
    I will probably be bashed by almost all here but this whole subject is bulls$$t. It is nice to dream about a wold that is energy efficient and green but it ain't happening in anyone's lifetime on the wall today.
    Here is why, before i get started let me get behind a wall to block the stones.
    Let's first address our current problems. We have the majority of our industry does not properly size boilers and most installs are 100% over sized. I see many boilers with 2 & 3 minute run times on mod/con boilers. The benefit of proper sizing is the boiler will handle the smaller zones better. We must meet the load on the coldest days but we realize it is at design less than 95% of the winter. The boiler operates in the lower half of the input 60% or more of the season so get down there by proper sizing. The majority of our industry does not understand pump sizing. Many of the people in our industry does not understand proper piping. Many high efficiency boilers installed do not install the OD reset. Many boilers the OD reset has been disabled. Most in our industry do not understand the settings of OD reset. Many do not understand half the parameters in today's controls and how to use them to their advantage. Most do not know how to troubleshoot today's controls be it high efficiency or cast iron boilers. Many tech's today do not even have the tools required to work on today's boilers to include manometers and combustion analyzers.
    Higher technology we are not ready for it.
    The industry is driving for less expensive boilers which means less technology, less longevity and built offshore. Boiler technology improvements cost money and if you want them you must pay for them.
    I have noticed this in most industries not just ours. I realize the people who post here are definitely good companies and do good job's. What percentage of the industry are you? 1%? 1/2%? 1/4%?
    I am ready to be pummeled by your stones but all the stones will not change the above information.
  • Gordy
    Gordy Member Posts: 9,546
    edited February 2016
    The only public policy that can address this is the cost of energy. By this I do not mean a gallon of gas. A heating season with high oil, and LP prices only to be lower the next time. I mean across the board energy costs to the point of holy crap, I have to change my ways, or I will be eating beans for breakfast, lunch, and supper. Let that sink in for a minute.

    That is what dictates the urgency to be green. That is what dictates the ROI for HE short life span equipment.

    That is what dictates how we move forward in the alternative energy arena.

    That is what dictates innovation to a level yet to be seen.
    SWEI
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 16,728
    AJinCT said:

    Steamhead, I have never claimed to be in the HVAC industry, either from the engineering or installation side of things. I am a Mechanical Engineer, and I work in the defense industry. I have no vested interest in this discussion or the energy standards if that's what you're asking (and that's a fair question).

    An engineer working in the defense industry. That explains a lot. I bet you would take offense if we said similar things about your industry, wouldn't you?
    AJinCT said:

    The steam system in the dorms actually worked just fine when needed. Those dorms have cooling load on them (double hung thermostat) until it's about 10 degrees outside because of the all the people, mini-fridges, showers, lights, computers, solar gain, steam risers or hot water loops, and everything else dumping heat into them. Then, they need just the tiniest amount of added heat.

    You might think that's working just fine, but no one who has any knowledge of steam heating systems would agree. Overheating rooms is wasteful no matter what system is in use.

    The steam system you describe was out of control. But it wouldn't have taken much to correct the problem, if the institution was willing to pay to have it done, and it would cost a lot less than the complete tear-out and replacement you advocate.

    If you took the time to follow the link I posted earlier, you would find I refer therein to the same job that we feature in our Find a Contractor ad. Not only did we fix the overheating/underheating issues they had, but we cut their fuel consumption by a third. We have the therms-per-degree-day figures at the office. The payback period was two years, after which it's money in the bank for them.

    We never did find out the payback period for the other guy's project in that thread, but I'm sure it wasn't two years. Nor did we find out what condition the steam system was in when he killed it. I'd bet it was in bad shape. But his client spent a lot more money than ours did for the same results.

    You can rant all you want, but the huge installed base of steam isn't going anywhere. You can wave your magic wand all you want, but it's not going to disappear any time soon. And with the current experimentation with applying vacuum to existing systems, we'll soon be able to vary the steam temperature in a lot more buildings than previously, which will save even more fuel.

    Maybe you should stick to defense projects.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 15,462
    edited February 2016
    @AJinCT 1935 GE monitor top consumes 18 to 20 kwh per month in normal use.

    You told me they're energy hogs so now find me a new refrigerator that is better.


    3" of insulation, no fans and no defrost heater.


    Good luck.


    Looks likes you know just as much about refrigeration as you do steam heat.
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 15,462
    @AJinCT I provided you with a fact and challenged you to prove me wrong. Your response was to call me a liar and not provide any data.


    18 to 20 kwh. Show me one that uses less.
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 22,928
    @ChrisJ -- our troll here as also made some fundamental mistakes and misstatements regarding thermodynamics -- about which I do know a little -- suggesting that while he may be a mechanical engineer; he says he is and we don't know otherwise; he really has no idea what he's talking about. Wouldn't be the first one like that...
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
    ChrisJRich_49
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 15,462

    @ChrisJ -- our troll here as also made some fundamental mistakes and misstatements regarding thermodynamics -- about which I do know a little -- suggesting that while he may be a mechanical engineer; he says he is and we don't know otherwise; he really has no idea what he's talking about. Wouldn't be the first one like that...

    I think his intentions may be right.
    But I agree with you.
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 16,728
    AJinCT said:

    There was nothing wrong with the steam system, it worked fine on the once in a blue moon that we used it, and it had to carry the load during the winter break when no one was there dumping heat into the building. It's just that a modern dorm that with sort of density basically heats itself. The TRVs were great because it was easy to shut off and it didn't overheat temp wise. The TRVs kept it off unless you cranked them way up. The risers were probably giving some heat off too, and the first floor people may have been actually using their heat more than we did on the third floor. Not sure why you're hung up on that system, it worked fine. There were some academic buildings on the steam system though that were completely out of control, and definitely wasting a lot of energy.

    You stated that
    AJinCT said:

    "Those dorms have cooling load on them (double hung thermostat) until it's about 10 degrees outside".

    You did not say whether the radiators were actually heating during that time, i.e, if the TRVs were actually working. And if they were, and the control system did not react to the low demand for steam (which again, we see quite frequently because we actually WORK with this stuff instead of merely pontificating about it) then that system is out of control.

    Which university was this? Yale, maybe, since you're in CT? I know that campus had a central steam plant. Did they actually take you through the system so you could see what previous generations of engineers could accomplish?
    AJinCT said:

    I'm not saying that steam should always be replaced no matter what, I'm just saying that it's preferable to do so if/when it can be done at a reasonable level of cost and disruption.

    What is your standard for a "reasonable" level?
    AJinCT said:

    I didn't say it should necessarily disappear. There are a lot of houses out there where it's just not practical to convert to hot water. However, you're not going to be getting 96% efficiency, reset controls, and the zoning control out of a steam system that you will with forced hot water. Physics win every time.

    You can zone room-by-room with TRVs, as they attempted to do at... which university?

    I stated previously that 90%+ has been done on steam. Mostly on larger commercial boilers, but the fact remains that it can be and has been done. Go look it up.

    Variable-vacuum steam systems are controlled using outdoor reset, and have been for decades. Look up the Dunham Vari-Vac system and tell us what you find. It was first used in the 1920s, when physics was king instead of Iphones.

    This variable-vacuum technique is being scaled down so it will be cost-effective for smaller systems before long. So it will eventually cover the millions of buildings that will be heated with steam for the foreseeable future.

    The basic problem with your approach is that you have previously decided that steam is not a viable technology, and you have come to a place where we know better, because again, we actually WORK with it. You might find more acceptance on a heat-pump forum.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 16,728
    edited February 2016

    @ChrisJ -- our troll here as also made some fundamental mistakes and misstatements regarding thermodynamics -- about which I do know a little -- suggesting that while he may be a mechanical engineer; he says he is and we don't know otherwise; he really has no idea what he's talking about. Wouldn't be the first one like that...

    I think JohnNY said it best, in his second post in this thread:

    http://forum.heatinghelp.com/discussion/123650/dan-its-time-to-look-to-the-future
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
    ChrisJ
  • Solid_Fuel_Man
    Solid_Fuel_Man Member Posts: 2,646
    It is interesting to read through this thread......... As an journeyman electrician, master heating control, and master refrigeration tech who is also obviously interested in the burning of solid fuels. Wood and coal...oh the irony of coal, there is no way in you-know-where I want the government telling me what I can and can't use or spec on a job.
    I already know what you are thinking, but set that aside for now. If the job warrants an inefficient backup source of heat, or has very frequent power failures, on old standing pilot water heater fits the bill well. How about the good old 100w incandescent light bulb? Best/cheapest freeze heater one can (could) find.
    I have built many super-efficient buildings and the systems in those buildings as well. I, like everyone else on this forum have had to go in and "untangle" some serious engineering screw-ups in a lot of buildings. Most generally, in new construction they have been in Government buildings, specifically border crossing buildings.
    My own home which I built in 2009, was built to my standards, I have a 14btu/ft2 at -45F, yet it would not pass building code if I lived in one town over. Don't even get me going on that, I had to build to "the standard" then I would not have had the resources to put into the building envelope that I did to have my heatloss so low as it is now.
    Sometimes things look/work better on paper than they do in the real world, I am all for trying something new, or doing something a different way, and to that end NOTHING replaces real-world experience.
    As far as the pain factor Gordy was speaking of driving the country into energy efficient future, well we should leave that to the market. Personally I believe if we would use as much locally available fuel as practable for heating then we can save the fossil fuel for transportation, where it will not be replaced for a long while. People in general are too lazy to care enough to really save some money on energy, the ones who are not lazy get the best equipment they can afford and reap the benefits from it.
    If you like the way Europe does things, you should live there for awhile and see what you think then.

    SFM
    Serving Northern Maine HVAC & Controls. I burn wood, it smells good!
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 16,728
    AJinCT said:

    UConn-Storrs. Unfortunately, we never got a tour of the cogen plant.

    So they presumed to teach engineering but never let you see how things actually work. That figures.
    AJinCT said:

    Reasonable is hard to determine. It depends on what other renovations are being done to a building. Certainly if a building undergoes significant renovations, then the steam should go in favor of a modern heating system.

    You do know that the recent renovation and "greening" of the Empire State Building included refurbishing, not replacing, the steam heating system?
    AJinCT said:

    I decided that steam isn't as relevant to a discussion about energy efficiency, because it can't be as efficient as hot water

    Says who? Have you built two houses identical in every way except that one has steam and the other hot-water, with both systems in peak condition, and compared their fuel consumption. I didn't think so. To our knowledge, that has never been done. So you are perpetuating a myth.
    AJinCT said:

    and because it is a small niche compared to hot water, which is a relatively small player nationwide compared to scorched air

    Obviously you have never worked in an older American city. Based on what many of us, including myself, have seen, the housing stock in these cities is fairly evenly split between steam and hot-water. In Baltimore, we regularly work in houses where scorched-air systems have been replaced with steam or hot-water systems. This was considered an upgrade.
    AJinCT said:

    Even if you can make a 90% steam boiler, I'm focused only on areas where the products already exist

    So, in the name of energy efficiency, you wouldn't advocate coming out with such a product? Oh right, it's steam.
    AJinCT said:

    and are already 100% proven in the field to be able to significantly tighten energy efficiency standards, which is certainly the case with 97% furnaces, 98% tankless water heaters, 96% boilers

    Some of these have only lasted five years or so. This means we have to consume more energy and raw materials to make replacement units. On a macro level, where's the savings in that?
    AJinCT said:

    and oil boilers like Buderus and EK that have real efficiencies that are somewhere close to their 87% AFUE ratings.

    And the three-pass MegaSteam- oh wait, it's steam so you wouldn't even think of including it.

    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
    Sailah
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 22,928
    Ah... UConn Storrs. That explains a lot.

    For one example, an apparent confusion about higher and lower heating value of fuels...
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 15,462
    edited February 2016
    AJinCT said:

    ChrisJ, I don't know if you actually believe those data points. Maybe you do. I just don't believe them. Something's amiss there.

    Why wouldn't I?
    They were published specs in the 1930s when GE was competing for the most efficient refrigerator as electric was very expensive and keep in mind, it was also during the great depression.

    Fact is, refrigerators didn't become energy pigs until after WWII and they really became bad in the 1950s-1980s when frost-free became the norm. More recently ones are better, but still not as good as the pre war ones. A 1980s machine could use as much as 80 to 100 kwh per month. More recent ones are down to 30-40.

    I also own 3 monitor tops, and there's something called a watthour meter that we can use to measure consumption. I also have a 2011 Kitchenaid refrigerator that was "Energy Star approved".

    http://www.amazon.com/P3-International-P4460-Electricity-Monitor/dp/B000RGF29Q/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1456004745&sr=8-2&keywords=kill-a-watt


    You're right, something is amiss there.
    You seem to think refrigeration technology has changed greatly, overall it has not. The 1930s machines have 3" of insulation and while it's corrugated cardboard, this performs on par with fiberglass. A few of our members have converted to sprayfoam which 3" of sprayfoam is obviously superior and their run times are even lower.

    Something else you are not realizing are the 1930s machines have no fans, they rely on natural convection and radiation to work. The condenser is on top of the machine which aids in this and also keeps heat from re-entering the cabinet. The 1930s machines use a highside float as an expansion device, this is significantly better than a capillary tube that all new machines use. It's also a lot more expensive to make. Most of them use sulfur dioxide as a refrigerant and it's far superior as a refrigeration than R-134A. My 3 machines use methyl formate which is also better than R-134A, and far more environmentally friendly as well. Zero ozone depletion and zero global warming potential..

    The cabinets are also smaller than modern machines. Plenty of room for me, but I guess it's not as appealing to the modern American as a gigantic refrigerator with a built in ice maker and water dispenser. Regardless, it also contributes to lower energy consumption.

    And by far the biggest difference, there's no defrost heater. Defrost heaters are the energy pig, not the compressor. I manually defrost my machine a few times a year and it costs zero. No energy.


    The machines weigh 350 pounds, last forever and consume incredibly little electric. I run mine at a 34F cabinet temperature because I like my water cold. It'll maintain this even with a 100F ambient. The 2011 Kitchenaid cannot.

    My data is accurate.
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
    GordoSolid_Fuel_Man
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 15,462


    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • Fred
    Fred Member Posts: 8,542
    I see stones coming through my windows already! But, come on guys, The OP may have not been very tactful about the way he approached this topic AND he certainly has offended just about everyone who took the time to respond to his questions/comments but maybe, just maybe he is looking for some answers to his concern about energy policy, or the lack of it. I'm not defending him, but MY LORD, you guys could just set him straight, with your knowledge/skills/experience, and send him on his way or refer him to a .gov website where he can insult (intentional or otherwise) those that should be able to address his concerns.
    This thread is brutal.
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 15,462
    Fred said:

    I see stones coming through my windows already! But, come on guys, The OP may have not been very tactful about the way he approached this topic AND he certainly has offended just about everyone who took the time to respond to his questions/comments but maybe, just maybe he is looking for some answers to his concern about energy policy, or the lack of it. I'm not defending him, but MY LORD, you guys could just set him straight, with your knowledge/skills/experience, and send him on his way or refer him to a .gov website where he can insult (intentional or otherwise) those that should be able to address his concerns.
    This thread is brutal.

    Penny said "WHAT?!"
    That's it, it's over.

    :)
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment