3 Steps to Cutting Fuel Costs in the Boiler Room

| Edward McKellar
As summer etches forward, the hot topic of the year continues to be these fuel prices. With vacations being put on hold and commuters rethinking their daily driving habits, more and more people are looking for ways to save fuel costs. In the boiler room, cutting down on fuel expenses has been a longstanding objective. After all, the better the boiler and burner are utilizing the fuel for combustion, the better it is for both lowered maintenance cost and longevity. Before discussing ways to minimize fuel expenses for a boiler room, let’s first talk about the different types of fuel.

What are the different types of fuels used for boilers? – There are many fuels used in the production of steam. Modern package boilers like a 5 Series York-Shipley Dryback are often equipped with a combination gas oil burner. Commonly these are trimmed to accommodate either natural gas or # 2 fuel oil. Dual fuel burners like these offer both flexibility and redundancy for end-users so plants can take advantage of differences in fuel costs, or have a backup should there be a problem with either equipment or fuel sources.

Common fuels used in power boilers:

  • Natural Gas
  • Light Oil
  • Heavy Oil
  • Propane
  • Coal
  • Digester Gases
  • Other Solids, bi-products, or waste gases.

Annual Maintenance is a Critical Component of Saving Fuel Expenses.

How to reduce fuel expenses for a boiler?  Fuel can be one of a facility’s major expenses. Understanding the areas that can help minimize boiler fuel costs will ultimately save a plant thousands of dollars annually. Three simple methods to ensure your installed steam and hot water boilers are operating on minimum fuel costs are as follows:

  1. Regular Boiler Tuning – Having a boiler tuned at set intervals is among industry standard best practices to ensure that the business end of the boiler is burning fuel effectively and efficiently.  A boiler tuning sets the burner through the entire firing cycle to best meet the proper fuel-to-air ratio. Many factors can affect the tune of the burner namely, hysteresis and air density changes. Twice annual tunings will help to maintain the optimum firing of a power boiler’s burner.
  2. Boiler Maintenance – Performing the right boiler maintenance at the correct frequencies will not only keep the boiler operating for longer, but it will also make it do so more efficiently. From the daily operations and maintenance to the annual open, clean, and closing of a boiler, these set intervals for maintenance are critical for reducing annual fuel expenses. The bi-products of not performing regular maintenance create a boiler that needs more fuel to produce a plant’s steam requirements.
  3. Operator Training – Properly trained personnel understand the operations and maintenance needs of a boiler. Getting facility mechanics and personnel trained on the regular maintenance and operation needs of installed steam and hot water systems is a vital part of having an efficiently operating plant. Training provides facility personnel with the confidence of understanding how a boiler functions and the best practices for safety and efficiency.

 

Regular Training Makes for an Efficiently Operating Plant

 

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