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Taking the Pulse on the Energy-Efficient Use of Steam Boilers for Hospitals

Taking the Pulse on the Energy-Efficient Use of Steam Boilers for Hospitals

The purchase and use of boilers in hospitals represents one of the largest expenses for the facility. With both high and low pressure demands, the use of steam boilers spans across virtually all facets of the hospital, including:

  • Sterilization of equipment
  • Clean steam
  • Building heat
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    Humidification for emergency rooms
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    Industrial laundry
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    Food preparation

Because of the many roles boilers play in hospitals, it’s imperative to choose the best boiler for your hospital facility. When you partner with ATI of New York, we’ll conduct a needs analysis and guide you toward the most effective boiler system for your hospital.  

Most importantly, we’ll help you choose a boiler that saves energy and keeps costs efficient while maintaining your investment for quality and compliance. Continue reading for a few best practices and energy-efficient technologies designed to reduce energy costs for steam systems in hospitals while addressing safety and environmental concerns.

Keep the Hospital Boiler Equipment Clean

Did you know as little as 1/8th inch of soot can cause your boiler efficiency to decrease by as much as 8%? It's important to the hospital boiler equipment clean, and you can do so by:

  • Ensuring fire-side surfaces avoid soot buildup by having adequate access to air.
  • Keep the combustion surface clean and clear of accumulated byproducts of combustion.

Optimize the Hospital Boiler Blowdown

The hospital's boiler blowdown manages the accumulation of solids in the water; while:

  • Ensuring safe chemical concentration
  • Enhancing heat transfer
  • Protecting the boiler surface

Even though the blowdown is a critical component, it’s often overused and overlooked during normal maintenance. Yet, optimizing blowdown performance will reduce the energy consumption of steam systems in hospitals. A few ways you can optimize blowdown performance include:

  • Utilize or install automatic blowdown controls to continuously monitor boiler water conductivity. These controls will also adjust the blowdown rate accordingly. Automatic blowdown controls can cost anywhere from around $3k up to $6k, but will usually have a one to three year ROI.
  • Ensure the blowdown rate is appropriate — usually between 4% and 8% of the boiler feedwater flow rate. The best blowdown rate is determined by many factors including operating pressure, the type of boiler, quality of makeup water, and water treatment.

Fine Tune the Combustion Air for Boilers for Hospitals

Did you know every 15% reduction in excess air can increase hospital boiler efficiency by one percent? The combustion efficiency of boilers for hospitals can be compromised by the accumulation of soot as well as other contamination in the combustion area.

Combustion efficiency can also be compromised by too much combustion air. When you tune the combustion air, you’ll reduce the excess air as well as any other accumulation. Here’s how you can effectively tune the combustion air:

  • Think about utilizing an automated O2 compensation system.
  • Inspect and repair any air leaks and minimize excess air.
  • Consider using air economizers to preheat the air and bolster efficiency. Implementing heat recovery — drawing on the top stack hot air as an inlet for combustion air — offers a low cost solution.

Maintain Steam Traps in Boilers for Hospitals

If your steam trap is malfunctioning, it can result in thousands of dollars of wasted energy costs every year. Most importantly, it can cause the premature retirement of your equipment. Leakage leads to abnormally warm rooms as well as unstable boiler operating pressure.

If your trap is oversized, it can result in release of live steam, which causes an immediate safety hazard and reduces energy efficiency. If dirt plugs a valve or keeps it from closing, it will cause the loss of fuel. However, you can protect your equipment and the performance of it by regularly checking steam traps:

  • Find and rectify any steam leakage. Consider using an automated steam trap, which will allow you to monitor up to 16 steam traps.
  • Keep steam traps clean.
  • Ensure all steam traps are properly sized and positioned to allow simple maintenance and ease of access.

Treat Water Impurities for Boilers for Hospitals

Impurities like calcium, scale, and other metals can quickly destroy the efficiency of your hospital’s boiler by as much as 12%. By making sure your feedwater is treated properly prior to being pumped into the boiler will work to significantly reduce impurity build up. Depending on the quality of the steam you need, you can treat it with:

Contact ATI of New York to Upgrade Steam Systems in Hospitals

Almost two-thirds of the commercial size hot water boilers in the U.S. are over 20 years old. Even if you religiously conduct maintenance, sometimes it may be more efficient and beneficial to consider replacing your boilers. How do you know when you’ve reached that point? The experts at ATI of New York can help. We bring decades of experience helping hospitals analyze the current state of their system.

As the manufacturer’s representative for the leading boiler manufacturers in the world, we can create a customized solution to meet your facility’s needs for today and tomorrow — even if they change. We can implement effective boiler load management techniques that can reduce your energy costs — enabling the upgrades to pay for themselves.

Let’s talk more about how we can help decrease the energy consumption of your facility to save you money today.

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