What FEMP Means for Your Business
If your business relies on boiler systems, then reducing energy, cutting costs, and increasing operational efficiency are basic business principles that are critical to business success. That’s what makes the trend towards more efficient boilers a smart choice for boiler operators. While businesses have been taking the necessary steps to improve boiler efficiency, federal and state agencies like the Federal Energy Management Program (FEMP) have also been playing a huge role in providing a boiler efficiency guide to help businesses meet efficiency requirements so as to reduce energy use and greenhouse gas emissions.
What is FEMP?
The Federal Energy Management Program, or FEMP, is in charge of providing purchase guidance for businesses that operate commercial boilers. This program provides your business with the right information, tools, and assistance needs to meet and track your boiler operational requirements and goals. FEMP commercial boiler requirements and acquisition guidelines apply to:
- Oil fired boilers
- Gas fired boilers
- Low pressure water boilers
- Low pressure steam boilers
The program focuses on boilers that are used in the commercial space for heating purposes with a capacity rating of 300,000 up to 10,000,000 Btu/h. It’s important to understand that this program excludes residential boilers with 300,000 Btu/h or lower capacity, as well as high pressure boilers that are used in industrial or cogeneration applications.
Federal agencies like the U.S Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) provide boiler efficiency levels and product specification details to ensure that manufacturers comply with the FEMP boiler efficiency guide and requirements. On the other hand, FEMP ensures that when you buy commercial boilers, minimum requirements are met or exceeded in boiler and thermal efficiency.
Privately owned organizations, businesses, and institutions can adopt the specified efficiency requirements and levels voluntarily. There are specific commercial boiler efficiency requirements you can find listed on the FEMP website by the Hydronics Institute. The information provided on commercial boiler requirements should give you an idea of what requirements you should meet.
The Hydronics Institute is comprised of more than 60 manufacturers of hydronic equipment, including boilers, various types of radiation, and their controls and accessories. It promotes and advances hydronic heating, offers FEMP boiler efficiency guide consultation, provides training to contractors, and organizes educational, marketing, and technical programs to benefit its manufacturer members, installers, specifiers, and even end users of hydraulic equipment.
How Much Can You Save?
By investing in FEMP-designated boilers, your business gets to make significant savings in the process. Based on FEMP calculations, if you buy the recommended gas-fired boiler model for hot water heating, you get to save money if it’s priced at $23,000 or less than the low-efficient boiler model. If you go for the best boiler models in the market, you can save as much as $28,000 combined energy costs over the boiler’s lifespan.
Federal product buyers and even businesses like yours can be sure that commercial boilers that meet efficiency requirements by FEMP are much more cost effective over their lifetime. To calculate the savings for specific boilers, use the calculator provided for commercial boilers by FEMP under default settings. You can easily compare different product purchases and calculate the approximate cost savings you would get by purchasing more efficient models.
To determine if an efficient boiler is actually cost-effective, its energy savings over its lifespan must be more than the extra upfront costs in comparison to less efficient boilers. When setting the required efficiency levels of residential and commercial boilers, ENERGY STAR takes into account the upfront costs incurred, as well as the energy savings over a boiler’s life. For business and organizations, the boiler efficiency guide and efficiency requirements of ENERGY STAR approved and FEMP-designated boilers over a life cycle can be assumed to be most cost effective.
Your business can actually save more when boiler energy costs are higher than the market average or in high-use applications by specifying the best boilers that exceed efficiency requirements by federal agencies.
It’s important to understand that FEMP boilers in low use operation or those operating in areas with extremely low energy capacity aren’t effective. Note that for the majority of commercial boiler applications, you’ll find that the energy-efficient boilers are highly cost-effective for your business over the systems lifecycle.
As a business, you can claim federal exemption when it comes to meeting FEMP acquisition requirements by writing and submitting a finding showing that no ENERGY STAR or FEMP boiler meets functional requirements for your specific applications. It’s important to understand the federal commercial boiler requirements for your business.
When it comes to buying commercial boilers, it’s important that you make informed decisions based on the FEMP boiler efficiency guide. The right boiler system for your business should have the capacity to:
- Meet the peak demands of your business.
- Efficiently operate even at minimal load conditions.
When choosing the right boiler sizing and system for your business applications, you must first understand both the load profile and peak demands of your boiler heating or energy needs. If your business experiences variable building loads, which is usual in most commercial buildings, you should consult with your boiler designer and system engineer on how you can install multiple small-sized modular boilers or boiler systems that come with modulating burners.
Your goal here is to ensure that during low load applications, a few of your boilers can go offline to avoid standby or cycling-related losses. This way, only the running boiler will be operating at the highest efficiency without experiencing further cycling issues. If you need any guidance on quality installation and the right boiler sizing, you can refer to the HVAC industry specifications.
What Are the Best Features to Look For?
Water Temp Reset
When buying a hot water boiler, ensure that they are capable of resetting water temperature. That is one of the FEMP boiler efficiency guide recommendations. The temperature should match the boiler’s return-water temperature or the outdoor environment air temperature. With lower heating needs, the boiler’s supply water should be set at a much lower temperature.
Modulating Boiler Burners
The best boiler should be able to vary its heating capacity by modulating the combustion system or burner. In most cases, commercial boilers don’t operate at full load—that means that boilers could experience more frequent cycling and system losses. It’s recommended that you specifically purchase boilers that come with modulating capability. Aim for the right turndown ratio—such as 4:1—for your heating boilers when considering commercial boiler requirements.
Considering that commercial boilers experience cycling problems, and more time is needed to bring large boilers up to optimal operational temperature, you should consider purchasing low mass boilers to cut energy use. Keep in mind that some types of boilers can also start up more quickly, therefore eliminating the need for a standby boiler.
If you want easier management of your boiler systems consider remote monitoring. This also helps in detecting boiler malfunctions as earliest as possible and forms a key part of the latest boiler efficiency guide recommendations.
Air-Fuel Ratio Boiler Control
To ensure that your boiler operates at optimal levels during full-load and part-load operation, ensure the boiler has precise air-fuel ratio control. Features like sensors and oxygen-trim control should be considered, especially in large commercial boiler systems. Oxygen-trim control helps in monitoring oxygen levels in the boiler’s flue gas and automatically adjusts the air-fuel ratio to ensure better combustion performance.
Optimum Boiler Start Control
Purchase boilers with optimum boiler start control to ensure that they fire without delays to provide the heating requirements of a building when needed.
Based on the FEMP boiler efficiency guide, it’s important to understand that condensing boilers achieve better efficiency when operating part load while conventional boilers achieve higher efficiency in full-load operation. Choose a boiler system that comes with a hybrid system that easily combines both types of boilers with efficient controls for optimal operation. This type of approach is perfect for upgraded applications where you may want to integrate different types of boiler systems.
Maintenance Tips for Boilers
Consider these maintenance tips for boilers to ensure efficient and smooth operation:
- Follow the recommended maintenance guidelines.
- Ensure regular monitoring of flue-gas temperature to detect potential operational issues.
- Maintain steady air levels in the boiler burner using an oxygen-trim sensor.
- Frequently monitor water levels to avoid boiler damage.
- Ensure annual cleaning for waterside and fireside surfaces.
- Consider water treatment to extend boiler life and increase efficiency.
Get boiler clear operation and detailed maintenance manuals for different types of boilers and control systems from the Boiler Efficiency Institute. You can learn more about commercial boiler requirements by following the FEMP boiler efficiency guide.
Professional Boiler Solutions
To ensure quality operations and proper maintenance of your boiler systems, it’s advisable to work with experienced boiler experts with extensive knowledge in boiler applications. Manley’s Boiler, Inc. is here to help choose the best boiler systems for commercial buildings. We sell and rent a wide range of boiler brands and work with businesses to achieve high efficiency and cost savings. Contact our customer service team for more information today.