According to the US Energy Information Administration (EIA), natural gas prices have increased by almost 150% from January 2020 to March 2022 – from $2.02/ MMBtu to $4.90/MMBtu.
For a mid-sized hospital averaging 300 BHP output (10,042,500 Btu/Hr) 24/7/365, and the boiler has a nominal 80% fuel-to-steam efficiency, the annual fuel costs run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars.
The following chart shows how fuel rates and boiler efficiencies affect annual fuel costs. Here are six basic strategies we can employ to help our customers improve efficiency and reliability, and reduce annual fuel costs.
Free Combustion Analysis: we offer a free combustion analysis to help you understand how efficiently your burner is working. We can show you how much we can save you with proper combustion tuning, and possibly a burner retrofit.
Preventative Maintenance: a semi-annual or quarterly preventative maintenance program, including an annual open inspection, can improve efficiency, reliability, and safety. PM visits include external inspection, testing of all safety devices, and combustion tuning. A small increase in efficiency can result in significant annual fuel savings.
Waste Heat Recovery: using a feed water economizer can increase fuel-to-steam efficiency by up to 5%, by pre-heating feed water with exhaust flue gases. Also, blow-down heat recovery systems provide further fuel savings by pre-heating make-up water from the softener before it goes into the DA or feed water tank.
In-Service Efficiency (ISE) Study: we can provide an ISE study that will show you your actual system efficiency – including steam cycling and load swings over an extended (2-week) period – which is the best indicator of how well your steam system is doing, and will provide you with options for savings. In-Service Efficiency is the truest measurement of actual system performance. Contact your CCS Sales Engineer for an estimate of setting up an ISE study
Deaerator Inspection: a properly functioning deaerator can pay for itself in reducing chemical costs and improving overal system efficiency. A deaerator (DA) mechanically removes dissolved O2, so less O2-scavenging chemicals need to be utilized, which results in large chemical savings. Steam usage is minimal compared to the benefit of added heat to the feed water.
Steam Trap Survey: A $200 steam trap that is leaking by can cost over $2,000 in lost condensate. Improving condensate return is a relatively simple and cost-effective way to reduce fuel costs. Blocked steam traps prevent treated and heated condensate return back to the boiler room, which wastes energy and chemicals. A steam trap survey typically reveals potential savings well in excess of the survey cost.