Simple steps to a lower natural gas bill
- Preventive maintenance and smart operating practices can save a significant amount of energy.
- Low–cost upgrades can improve overall efficiency and save energy with a quick payback.
- Control tuning and simple setting adjustments can optimize energy savings.
Proper maintenance procedures can help save money on heating in several ways. Other strategies include retrofitting or upgrading equipment, adjusting settings for low–demand situations and optimizing operating conditions.
Many commercial and institutional buildings have kitchen facilities. A few simple operational changes and cost–effective retrofits can save a significant amount of energy, including the following:
- Ovens should reach their desired temperature within 15 minutes. To save energy, avoid pre-heating ovens for more than 15 minutes.
- Only use hood fans while cooking; they draw in heated air and exhaust it to the outside.
- Integrate controls with sensors that turn down the heat when food is not present. A large percentage of food equipment continues to run (idle) at high heat input rates even when food is not present.
- For gas fryers and gas griddles, use infrared (IR) burners that operate with less than 10 percent excess air, reducing combustion energy loss up the flue.
Many industrial facilities use large amounts of natural gas for process heating. You can minimize natural gas consumption and improve energy efficiency by doing the following:
- Examine flue–side heat transfer surfaces for deposits of sludge, scale or soot, and clean these surfaces on a regular basis. Continuous agitation or other methods should be used to discourage the buildup of deposits.
- Reduce excess air used for combustion. Measure and control air–fuel ratio, or oxygen and carbon monoxide content of flue gases from furnaces, ovens and boilers for the entire range of operation.
- Install automatic furnace pressure controllers that regulate and stabilize pressure in process heating equipment. Maintaining positive pressure can help to reduce the furnace draft and cold air infiltration, which can increase natural gas consumption.
- Implement an effective steam trap maintenance program. This promotes efficient operation of end–use heat transfer equipment and reduces live steam in the condensate system.
Space heating, which consumes a large amount of natural gas in the winter, is essential to building operation and occupant comfort. Savings opportunities include:
- Maintaining and upgrading insulation is the least expensive way to save energy and it will have the fastest payback. Inspect and repair all caulking and weather stripping around doors and windows regularly.
- Clean and inspect gas furnaces and boilers. Inefficient burners with air/fuel ratios of more than 10 percent burn energy dollars. Dirty filters decrease efficiency and reduce the operating life of the heating equipment. New, energy–efficient burners will improve fuel combustion and reduce emissions of nitrogen oxide.
–cost upgrade, which can save energy by operating the heating system according to occupancy schedules and nighttime and weekend setbacks. A one degree temperature reduction can yield a 2 percent reduction in heating energy use.
- Maintain proper insulation levels on key heating equipment components.
- Use shades, blinds and ceiling fans to supplement heating without consuming large amounts of energy. Make sure all doors and windows are closed tightly while the heating system is operating.
- During the heating season, keep loading dock doors closed when not in use. The use of infrared heaters and high–velocity air blowers can help to keep cold, outside air from entering the facility. Also consider installing dock seals or dock shelters.
In many commercial and industrial facilities, water heating consumes a significant amount of natural gas. The tips that follow will help you reduce energy use:
- Schedule regular inspections and maintenance to ensure the efficient operation of water heating equipment; check the hot water system for leaks regularly and test the burners annually.
- Make sure hot water pipes and storage tanks are well–insulated.
- If the building has a full kitchen, consider installing booster heaters at points of heavy use, such as the dishwashing area.
- Install low–flow showerheads and aerated faucets to reduce the amount of hot water used in washing. Aerated faucets reduce water flow and improve water pressure.
- Turn down water heaters over the weekend and when the building is not in use. Consider adding a timer that shuts the water off when the facility is unoccupied.