Outdoor Reset Soon to Be Commonplace
November 24, 2008
In late 2007, the Department of Energy (DOE) issued a final ruling on its report titled “Energy Conservation Program for Consumer Products: Energy Conservation Standards for Residential Furnaces and Boilers.” In it, the following verbiage can be found that will have a big impact on oil-fired heating products, as well as gas and steam heat products: “In addition to the ban on standing pilots, the agreement also requires a ‘temperature reset’ feature that automatically adjusts the boiler output according to the outdoor ambient air temperature. For oil-fired water boilers, the agreement contains the design requirement for the same ‘temperature reset’ feature.”
This standard will be required on all gas and oil boilers sold after November 2015. “It’s also in there that the unit must be inoperable without the reset control,” said Robert O’Brien of Technical Heating Co., Mt. Sinai, N.Y.
By definition, the control resets the boiler temperature with input from the outdoor sensor and/or inside sensor. For high recovery such as a domestic hot-water load, the control will ramp up to satisfy the demand.
Dan Auciello of Petro East District, Yaphank, N.Y., said this technology is nothing new. “Reset controls are mandatory on most European systems and in most commercial applications,” he said. “We had a basic system called Enetrol when I started in the business 30 years ago.
“Brookhaven National Labs has identified standby loss, not the annual fuel utilization efficiency (AFUE), as the most important consideration in energy conservation. There are also so-called system purge controls and some that incorporate reset, all designed to run more energy efficient. All of this is reducing the standby loss with indirect water heaters or storage tanks that act as a thermos bottle, not letting heat up the chimney.”
For now, outdoor resets are on the mind of oil heat contractors and although this new DOE standard won’t technically have an impact seven years from now, oil heat professionals are gearing up to bring the message to their trade and its customers today: make the switch now to outdoor reset controls because of the energy savings.
“These products can save a customer anywhere from 25-35 percent on their annual fuel costs,” said George McQueeny of East River Energy, Guilford, Conn. “Using a reset control on a boiler with a cold start control alone can provide around a 15 percent savings.”
Ralph Adams III of Parker Fuel Co. Inc., Ellicott City., Md., said an outdoor reset control can typically save a customer one-third on their fuel bills and would more than offset the cost to install the control. Having an outdoor reset on an oil-fired boiler may also convince homeowners not to switch to an alternative fuel source, Adams noted.
“For example, a homeowner that is using 1,000 gallons of heating oil a year at a cost of $3.50 a gallon is spending $3,500 a year,” he said. “If we cut their usage by 25 percent, the homeowner is looking at a potential savings of $875 per year. If they spend $1,500 for the control, the payback is less than two years. After that, it’s money in their pocket. There is no investment around today offering this kind of return on its money.”
RESETS AND OIL HEAT CONTRACTORSAdams said that it simply makes good business sense for any oil heat contractor to offer products that will save customers money, even if it means the customer will buy fewer energy products from oil retailers, products which many oil heat contractors offer.
“Our company has been offering these technologies for the last four-five years to our customers,” he said. “I hear a lot from other company’s technicians who ask why we would offer these products to customers if its going to make them use less fuel oil,” said Adams.
“My response is two-part. First, if I don’t offer it to them someone else might and I lose the customer anyway. Second, if I do offer them to our customers and they see these types of savings and they talk to their neighbors, who do you think the neighbor is going to call?
“We’ve gone into communities and sold these types of equipment with savings as high as 50-60 percent and picked up neighbors that are now our customers that were not before. You will find these to be your most loyal customers.”
McQueeny, whose company not only installs and services oil heating equipment, but also delivers oil to its customers, feels that it is his obligation to provide energy-saving products because his company cannot predict when the price of oil will go up or down. He said he has to deal with something that he can control.
“It is our responsibility as energy providers to make this information available to our customers since we have no way of controlling the price of heating oil and this will help them conserve fuel oil,” he said.
Providing alternatives that save energy costs should be something that can create other sale opportunities as well. “Any additional work a contractor can propose offers him the chance to actually perform the job,” said Ronald Mannino of Avatar Moving Systems Inc. Yaphank, N.Y. “Assuming that the economy will be the same or similar to the way it is now, the contractor will have the possibility to sell additional work based on its money saving capabilities.”
CONSUMER INVOLVEMENT?Educated consumers may eventually make selling outdoor reset controls a little easier because of the potential cost savings. “In the past two years, we have seen consumers start to investigate the various ways to conserve energy,” said McQueeny. “Outdoor reset also provides a more comfortable heat and savings on energy costs. It is not a hard sell anymore as it was in the past.”
Auciello said, “Consumers should be interested in this because of the rising and uncertain fuel costs, not to mention global warming.”
Mannino agreed that resets not only save costs, but provide greater indoor comfort. However, he still believes that consumers don’t know enough about outdoor resets or do and choose not to act.
“I installed an outdoor reset in my home and the comfort level has improved greatly, even better than I had anticipated, he said. “The savings are also an important factor to consider.
“I have tried to convince my neighbors of the benefits of reset controls, but no one seems interested even with the record oil prices over the past year. Now that oil prices are down, I am sure the interest or lack thereof is even less. You would think people would be interested in saving money, but my belief is they won’t lay out money to save money.”
By 2015, homeowners and business owners alike will not have the option - they will have to show an interest in outdoor reset controls. An interest? Auciello is surprised that more consumers don’t have outdoor reset controls on their equipment. “With so much written and documented on the subject, the question is why doesn’t every new system have these controls?” he asked.
Publication Date: 11/24/2008