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Fuel consumption question?

chowchow
chowchow Member Posts: 56
I was just wondering since i had my HVAC guy come a few weeks ago (hes new) i seem to be burning more oil. I always keep the temp at the same level 65F never change it except in the summer when i bring it to the lowest level to save fuel. But is there anything he could have done like put the burner nozzle in wrong or done something somewhere along the line to cause a greater fuel consumption? Because i keep an eye on that very carefully and since he came it really seems i burning more fuel its the same nozzle type thats in there a .90-80B nozzle so he didnt change that i was downstairs talking to him the entire time so i dont think any funny business happened but im not very knowledgeable on boilers and burners any comments are welcome thank you.
PC7060
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Comments

  • leonz
    leonz Member Posts: 1,125
    The only ways you will reduce fuel are:

    Turn the thermostat down at night or just lower it and leave it at 62.

    Insulate your home and upgrade with new windows and doors.

    Install a smaller fuel nozzle. Your burner will run longer in this case.



  • chowchow
    chowchow Member Posts: 56
    so the nozzle couldnt have been put back in the wrong way or at a different angle?
  • pecmsg
    pecmsg Member Posts: 4,839
    chowchow said:

    so the nozzle couldnt have been put back in the wrong way or at a different angle?

    NO.

    Wrong nozzle is possible, but I doubt you would see a difference that quickly if at all.

    The only way of cutting your fuel bills are:
    Properly sized and maintained system.
    Tightening the envelope. Keep the heat in.
  • chowchow
    chowchow Member Posts: 56
    ok thanks pecmsg. :)
  • chowchow
    chowchow Member Posts: 56
    I just found it curious since he was here that i have been using MORE fuel not less and my habits concerning the boiler havent changed, thats why i was asking if there is anything a HVAC guy could do to a system to INCREASE fuel consumption. So i guess the answer is nothing correct?
  • pecmsg
    pecmsg Member Posts: 4,839
    chowchow said:

    I just found it curious since he was here that i have been using MORE fuel not less and my habits concerning the boiler havent changed, thats why i was asking if there is anything a HVAC guy could do to a system to INCREASE fuel consumption. So i guess the answer is nothing correct?

    How can you tell over a few weeks that you're burning more fuel?
  • EdTheHeaterMan
    EdTheHeaterMan Member Posts: 7,817
    Proper Air/Oil mixture will reduce the fuel usage. If the fire is running lean (higher air and/or lower fuel) the flame will operate at a cooler condition. This means the ∆T of the flame to the heat exchanger will be lower and the therefore the exchange of heat will be lower per gallon of fuel burned. The flame temperature will be lower and the exhaust or Stack Temperature may be hotter. This will show up as a lower combustion efficiency number. Did the service professional perform a combustion test when the nozzle replacement was finished?
    Edward F Young. Retired HVAC ContractorSpecialized in Residential Oil Burner and Hydronics
  • chowchow
    chowchow Member Posts: 56
    pecmsg said:

    chowchow said:

    I just found it curious since he was here that i have been using MORE fuel not less and my habits concerning the boiler havent changed, thats why i was asking if there is anything a HVAC guy could do to a system to INCREASE fuel consumption. So i guess the answer is nothing correct?

    How can you tell over a few weeks that you're burning more fuel?
    Because my fuel gauge on the oil tank has gone down faster than it normally would.
  • chowchow
    chowchow Member Posts: 56

    Proper Air/Oil mixture will reduce the fuel usage. If the fire is running lean (higher air and/or lower fuel) the flame will operate at a cooler condition. This means the ∆T of the flame to the heat exchanger will be lower and the therefore the exchange of heat will be lower per gallon of fuel burned. The flame temperature will be lower and the exhaust or Stack Temperature may be hotter. This will show up as a lower combustion efficiency number. Did the service professional perform a combustion test when the nozzle replacement was finished?

    No the nozzle wasnt replaced i think he said it was very clean and didnt need it and no test was preformed.
  • pecmsg
    pecmsg Member Posts: 4,839
    chowchow said:

    pecmsg said:

    chowchow said:

    I just found it curious since he was here that i have been using MORE fuel not less and my habits concerning the boiler havent changed, thats why i was asking if there is anything a HVAC guy could do to a system to INCREASE fuel consumption. So i guess the answer is nothing correct?

    How can you tell over a few weeks that you're burning more fuel?
    Because my fuel gauge on the oil tank has gone down faster than it normally would.
    Define Normal!
    Same degree days, same indoor temperature. I don't see how you can accurately measure with that gauge over a few weeks, too many variables.
    EdTheHeaterMan
  • STEVEusaPA
    STEVEusaPA Member Posts: 6,506
    You're just guessing, and looking to blame someone without any real data. Do you use oil to make domestic hot water?
    steve
  • EdTheHeaterMan
    EdTheHeaterMan Member Posts: 7,817
    edited January 2023
    You wrote "Because i keep an eye on that very carefully and since he came it really seems i burning more fuel its the same nozzle type thats in there a .90-80B nozzle"
    Do you know how many degree-days you have experienced per gallon of oil? How closely do you monitor the fuel? What gauge do you use? What are you comparing your measurement to? The number of days it takes to move 1" of oil level will change depending on the outside temperature. This whole country has just experienced a colder than normal couple of weeks recently. Are you in an area that was subject to this arctic cold blast?

    If you used the same amount of oil as the same month last year, that would not be normal because last year at this time, if your area was warmer, then you should be thankful that you used less fuel back then. Complaining about using more oil when it is cold means that you should move to a warmer climate.

    Regarding no nozzle change... what was the reason for the service visit?
    Edward F Young. Retired HVAC ContractorSpecialized in Residential Oil Burner and Hydronics
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 16,826

    .......Regarding no nozzle change... what was the reason for the service visit?
    This. The usual servicing involves changing the nozzle and filter, opening the boiler and brushing/vacuuming any accumulated soot deposits, putting the covers back on, starting the burner and tuning it with an analyzer.

    On a steam boiler, they should test the low-water cutoff and check the pigtail under the pressuretrol.

    On a hot-water boiler they should check that the expansion tank has a proper air charge in it.

    If they don't do all this, they're taking your money.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
    SuperTechSlamDunkMikeAmann
  • EdTheHeaterMan
    EdTheHeaterMan Member Posts: 7,817
    edited January 2023
    Not everyone knows what a degree-day is. Watch this short video to understand the concept of a Degree Day. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-0Sj0Fj_RL4 At my fathers oil delivery business we kept a close watch on the Degree Days in order to predict when a customer's oil tank was getting low and may need a fuel delivery. Another number that we used is the K factor That is how many degree days it takes to burn a gallon of oil. If you had a big house that was not very well insulated you might have a K factor of 2. This means that you burn 1 gallon of oil every 2 degree days. The example in the video of 30 degree days means that you would burn 15 gallons that day. On a warmer day, with only 20 degree days, you would burn 10 gallon of fuel.

    Now, if you had a smaller home with good insulation, you may have a K factor of 9. This means that you would only burn 3.33 gallons of fuel on a day that was measured at 30 degree days. On the warmer day with only 20 degree days you would burn just a little over 2 gallon of fuel.

    Hope this helps those that like to know about degree days and how they are used by the electric company, gas company and oil company to know how to predict/calculate energy usage.
    Edward F Young. Retired HVAC ContractorSpecialized in Residential Oil Burner and Hydronics
  • chowchow
    chowchow Member Posts: 56
    Yes i use oil to heat hot water but i hardly ever use hot water really also it was a yearly check up is why he came i think i need to find someone a bit more thorough.
  • chowchow
    chowchow Member Posts: 56

    You wrote "Because i keep an eye on that very carefully and since he came it really seems i burning more fuel its the same nozzle type thats in there a .90-80B nozzle"
    Do you know how many degree-days you have experienced per gallon of oil? How closely do you monitor the fuel? What gauge do you use? What are you comparing your measurement to? The number of days it takes to move 1" of oil level will change depending on the outside temperature. This whole country has just experienced a colder than normal couple of weeks recently. Are you in an area that was subject to this arctic cold blast?

    If you used the same amount of oil as the same month last year, that would not be normal because last year at this time, if your area was warmer, then you should be thankful that you used less fuel back then. Complaining about using more oil when it is cold means that you should move to a warmer climate.

    Regarding no nozzle change... what was the reason for the service visit?
    wish i could move to Bora Bora lol
  • EdTheHeaterMan
    EdTheHeaterMan Member Posts: 7,817
    Annual check up? and no new nozzle? you should get a different service person. Every annual service should include a combustion efficiency test. You need to know your efficiency and that your burner is burning properly. Excess air is necessary for complete combustion. Too much excess air is bad for efficiency.Same burner, same nozzle, same heater, too much excess air makes the fire burn 200° colder. More excess air in the flame means that more air and gaseous byproducts of combustion must travel thru the heat exchanger faster with less time to give off the heat so the exhaust temperature will be higher.
    Edward F Young. Retired HVAC ContractorSpecialized in Residential Oil Burner and Hydronics
    MaxMercy
  • MaxMercy
    MaxMercy Member Posts: 508
    chowchow said:


    Because my fuel gauge on the oil tank has gone down faster than it normally would.

    Those tank gauges are not nearly accurate enough to determine how much fuel you are using week to week.

    A modern primary controller like the Carlin 70200S can tell you the actual run time of the burner. Multiply that by the gph rating of your nozzle at the known pump pressure and you can get a pretty accurate indication of oil used.
    EdTheHeaterMan
  • chowchow
    chowchow Member Posts: 56
    Thank you ED and everyone else i learned a lot.
  • STEVEusaPA
    STEVEusaPA Member Posts: 6,506
    You could also have a small domestic water drip on the hot water side that's causing the boiler to fire more often.
    steve
  • STEVEusaPA
    STEVEusaPA Member Posts: 6,506

    Annual check up? and no new nozzle? you should get a different service person. Every annual service should include a combustion efficiency test. You need to know your efficiency and that your burner is burning properly. Excess air is necessary for complete combustion. Too much excess air is bad for efficiency.Same burner, same nozzle, same heater, too much excess air makes the fire burn 200° colder. More excess air in the flame means that more air and gaseous byproducts of combustion must travel thru the heat exchanger faster with less time to give off the heat so the exhaust temperature will be higher.

    You left out how draft could effect stack temp, and efficiency. But then again you didn't but a baro in your picture.
    steve
    EdTheHeaterMangmcinnes
  • Jason_13
    Jason_13 Member Posts: 304
    Also don't forget sealing the clean-outs and canopy. Air leaks will cool things off and lower efficiecny
  • SlamDunk
    SlamDunk Member Posts: 1,580
    To anyone else who may be concerned about their oil consumption, I had my doubts about this smart tank indicator's value but after watching one in action this year, I changed my mind.

    it is pretty handy. It will text you when you reach a predetermined level so you can call for oil (think of non ambulatory people or if you are providing eldercare) and when you received an oil delivery,

    It will tell you how many days of oil you have left and dices your gallons per hour by hour, day, week, season. And you get this info live rather than sticking tank or waiting for the oil bill.

    It eliminates a lot of guess work and if you do something like replace your windows or add insulation, you will be able to see if it made a difference



    STEVEusaPAEdTheHeaterMan
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,275
    You can also have a usable float gauge on the oil tank... and check it when you check the boiler... which you should, after all, now and then.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
    MaxMercy
  • SlamDunk
    SlamDunk Member Posts: 1,580
    edited January 2023
    The reason the owner of this system I am familiar wiith, purchased this smart tank indicator was because his float guage indicated more than a quarter tank but when he filled it, he was near empty.

    Still, if you are physically unable to get into basement, this is helpful. If you are looking after properties from a distance, this tool can be a time saver and it is a troubleshooting tool.

    If the OP had one, he/she would have a clear record of before and after service performance and can do something before the heating unit sooted up or after spending an extra couple hundred dollars in fuel because the burner was not properly tuned. The tech could have tuned burner with a larger nozzle. How would a lay person know?

    As you can see from responses: "how can you tell? And , youre just guessing, looking to blame someone without any real data"" is also likely to be what OP's service company will say.

    But if the OP was able to post graphs that showed, for example a 25% increase in consumption with relatively stable weather, we could have said, they made a mistake. Call them back. Get a second opinion. Or, that is normal.

    It is a handy tool for anyone who could use it. It provides data to homeowners. Maybe this should go to Dan Holohan's other tread, " Do you prefer your customers to be educated?
    gmcinnes
  • chowchow
    chowchow Member Posts: 56
    edited January 2023
    Of course i have a float gauge on the tank but im guessing its not that accurate. Doesnt everyone have a float gauge on a tank inside the home? I know it cant be done for underground tanks. Do people still put underground tanks in new homes that shouldnt be allowed its bad for soil and ground water.
  • Dave Carpentier
    Dave Carpentier Member Posts: 587
    Seeing as you have a function system (not a no-heat situation), one option is to book another tech to come out. They can check your nozzle (change it at that point, they're not expensive), check the pump pressure, and do a combustion analysis.
    Maybe the guy you had originally tends to take shortcuts ?
    30+ yrs in telecom outside plant.
    Currently in building maintenance.
  • chowchow
    chowchow Member Posts: 56
    Yes does anyone know what a fair clean & tune price should be?
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 16,826
    chowchow said:

    Yes does anyone know what a fair clean & tune price should be?

    We do not discuss pricing on this site. See: https://heatinghelp.com/forum-user-manual
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
  • WMno57
    WMno57 Member Posts: 1,256
    chowchow said:

    Yes does anyone know what a fair clean & tune price should be?

    Enough for the tech, and his back office support staff to make a "fair" living. You are also paying your share of the $40,000 truck, carrying costs of the $10,000 in inventory on truck. Health Insurance, Workers Comp, Liability Insurance. Oh yeah, don't forget your share of the other bills of deadbeat customers who don't pay. You get to cover that too. There's more, a lot more, but you get the idea.
    I DIY.
    SuperTechCorktown
  • EdTheHeaterMan
    EdTheHeaterMan Member Posts: 7,817

    Annual check up? and no new nozzle? you should get a different service person. Every annual service should include a combustion efficiency test. You need to know your efficiency and that your burner is burning properly. Excess air is necessary for complete combustion. Too much excess air is bad for efficiency Same burner, same nozzle, same heater, too much excess air makes the fire burn 200° colder. More excess air in the flame means that more air and gaseous byproducts of combustion must travel thru the heat exchanger faster with less time to give off the heat so the exhaust temperature will be higher.

    You left out how draft could effect stack temp, and efficiency. But then again you didn't but a baro in your picture.
    And the difference that oil temperature makes and what if they add kerosene for a winter blend and the water temperature ∆T or the flow rate of the boiler water and the ECM or PSC circulator and it there is Glycol in the boiler water. I forgot to include a class on the basics of thermodynamics, or if there was even a heat loss completed. But I confess, I just was not thinking of overwhelming our guest with more than one or 2 factors that could be the reason for his query about adjusting the burner to burn more oil. I though that the information I provided was just enough to Whelm ... Not Overwhelm

    Edward F Young. Retired HVAC ContractorSpecialized in Residential Oil Burner and Hydronics
    Grallert
  • SlamDunk
    SlamDunk Member Posts: 1,580
    edited February 2023
    I just wanted to add this for other homeowners who may want more precision than a mechanical tank float to monitor oil consumption.  Wow, the photo came out bigger than expected!
  • SlamDunk
    SlamDunk Member Posts: 1,580
    edited February 2023
    scroll way up to find link and literature.  I would like to believe some programmed math would compensate for curves.  
    gmcinnes
  • Waher
    Waher Member Posts: 250
    edited February 2023
    My oil service company uses an ultrasonic tank monitor called a Gremlin to track levels for deliveries (dials home once per day with AT&T cellular service on their dime) and it allows me to monitor how much fuel is used on a daily basis with a month long log available for viewing. When compared to the thermostat heat call run-time logs and the GPH of the nozzle on the burner, I can determine how much oil went to generating heat vs. hot water generation.
  • SlamDunk
    SlamDunk Member Posts: 1,580
    @ron,

    Thread count may not matter. This from your link's FAQ:

    I just had my tank filled, but the Smart Oil Gauge is not reading completely full, why is this?

    When a tank is filled, the oil level is often too close to the ultrasonic sensor to get a reliable reading, so the Smart Oil Gauge will just say 'Full'. There is also an airspace kept at the top of the tank to prevent over-filling. As a result, a 275 gallon tank typically holds around 250 gallons when completely full.

    I initially thought this was an expensive toy but have changed my mind. This past weekend when temps were in single digits, the burn rate was 4gal/day. If you see 4gal/day when outside temp is 40, you know you have a problem. I see more benefits than drawbacks.
  • gmcinnes
    gmcinnes Member Posts: 118
    @ron I looked at some questions on Amazon and it seems they use a fixed geometry for common sized tanks and calculate based on that.  Guess you're SOL if you're keeping your diesel in a cattle tote  :D
  • Dave Carpentier
    Dave Carpentier Member Posts: 587
    Its too bad they dont let you trim the max/min. Seems simple to implement, but perhaps could cause support calls when people bugger the procedure up, so they thought.. keep it simple.
    30+ yrs in telecom outside plant.
    Currently in building maintenance.
    SlamDunk
  • fortyyearsin
    fortyyearsin Member Posts: 2
    If you are not calculating you fuel use by gallons per degree day you are guessing.
    MaxMercy