Jan 052014
 

In the new issue of Engineered Systems, Doug Lucht, writes up his experiences troubleshooting an Air Handling Unit at an art museum. He describes the steps he took to locate the problems in an air handling system that never worked properly. The facility had to turn on the chillers as early as March with sub 45-degree temperatures, when the economizers should have been taking care of the building. I love a good mystery and it points out- facilities should not just except poor performance of their equipment but should get to the bottom of it. Solutions were found, Lucht writes…

Once the booster fan was installed, AHU-9 could fully economize. The museum could now keep their chillers off further into the spring and shut them down earlier each fall. They were also able to completely abandon the roof-mounted chiller that served the chilled water fan coil units. Shortly after implementing the solutions, the museum received a check from their utility provider, which made the facility manager look like a hero to the museum curators.

This story also illustrates why cobbling together new and old equipment isn’t always the best way to save money. It demonstrates there are small upgrades that can make big changes to the facility’s comfort and bottom line.

VBA-18 to 190 Ventasen Booster Fan

Ventasen Booster Fan
Product# VBA-18 to 190.
Airflow:144-1900CMH

Jan 262012
 

Minnesota Xcel Electric customers- now is the time!

Those of you who still have T12 lamps in your offices and warehouse be aware that Xcel Energy is offering bonus rebates on top of their already generous rebates to change these older fluorescent lamps to newer T8 lamps with Electronic ballast. (T12 refers to the diameter of the tube in 1/8″ increments. A T12 is 1-1/2″ in diameter, whereas a T8 is 1 inch in diameter. But the real cost and energy savings come from the efficient electric ballast that drive T8 lamps. )

2009 U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) regulations require T12 fluorescent lighting be phased out in 2012 and will no longer be available. To help it’s Xcel MN customers with this change, Xcel is offering bonus rebates through 2012 for T12 to T8 retrofits, T12 to T8 optimization projects and T12 to T5 lighting systems.

Now through March 31, 2012, all Xcel Energy is offering 50% bonus rebates to their Minnesota business electricity customers. These T12 conversion projects must be completed and invoiced on or before March 31, 2012. T12 upgrades completed and invoiced between April 1 and December 31, 2012, will be eligible for up to a 30% bonus rebate.

Note: Rebates for T12 upgrades will not be available after December 31, 2012.
After 2012 there will be no more T12 fixtures sold and as of last year there are no more magnetic ballasts sold. T8s and electric ballast are proven technologies, so there is no reason to keep playing your utility company for more electricity than you need.

Rebates range from…

  • $18.00 – $28.00 per fixture standard program
  • $27.00 – $42.00 per fixture with the 50% bonus (ends March 31st)
  • $23.40 – $36.40 per fixture with the 30% bonus (ends December 31st)

Note: All rebate amounts are per retrofitted fixture. Rebates cannot exceed 75% of project cost. Applications must be turned in within 12 months of invoice date or no later than May 1, 2013.

Details can be found on the Xcel website although it takes some hunting to find the rebate forms.

 Posted by at 2:37 pm  Tagged with: ,
Nov 222011
 

Recently I fielded a call from an equipment engineer in Minneapolis regarding a HVAC modeling project. He asked about my experience working with ‘Typical Meteorological Year” (TMY) data sets. I’ve modeled a number of Heating, Cooling and Ventilation jobs were I needed the fine detail that TMY data sets provide. I told him the problem I had was using a spreadsheet. I found 8760 lines made for some unwieldy spreadsheets. Instead I put the TMY data in a database and worked my models using a hybrid of database calculations and spreadsheet calculations. He asked where to get the data. It can be found from a number of different sources online. I have been using TMY2 and now TMY3 data sets* from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), other sources include…

  • TRY – ASHRAE’s Test Reference Year
  • WYEC – Weather Year for Energy Calculations
  • IWEC – International Weather for Energy Calculations
  • NCDC – National Climatic Data Center
  • TMY – Typical Meteorological Year

According to D.B. Crawley’s paper, “Which weather data should you use for energy simulations of commercial buildings?“, either WYEC nor TMY will work fine. These data sets are pretty good, however you need to keep in mind- they fail at the temperature extremes. The data sets are designed to weed out extreme tempertures in order to create smoother data sets. This can be problematic if you’re also using the simulation to size your equipment. Having said that, these TMY based models will be far more accurately modelling energy usage than using bin hours. They are also better when running what-if scenarios. In order to truly model a building for energy use, particularly where humidity control comes into play it is essential to model the energy use for each hour in a typical year- all 8760 data points.

Detailed hour-by-hour modeling using hourly weather data sets has become commonplace in the evaluation of design alternatives and the design of HVAC systems for larger buildings. For residential and small commercial buildings, calculating design loads based on high and low design temperature is still common practice. The economic issue is when the added cost of the more involved hour-by-hour modeling exercise can be expected to be justified by helping to guide the selection of equipment that provides significantly better part-load performance, resulting in tangible benefits of lower total annual energy cost and better comfort control in the building.-December 2010 ASHRAE Journal.

Other uses of TMY data sets are to adjust set-points based on outdoor temperature to control early morning pre-cooling. Both to take advantage of Lower temperatures and reduced peak demand rates. Building mass can also be used for energy storage. Off-peak heating and night cooling can be based on TMY modeling; shifting HVAC demands to off-peak hours and lower energy rates.

Some of this predictive control is finding its way down to the residential market with smart thermostats. I predict we’ll be seeing more of these smart thermostats… “A trial in 2000 households by Oncor Utilities in Texas resulted in heating and air-conditioning power cuts of 20% to 30% and annual savings up to $400. It also achieved complete AC turnoff at peak hours due to pre-cooling. These examples indicate that approximately 10% of energy to condition buildings can be potentially be saved by the use of control algorithms using forecaster weather conditions.”

*Note: The TMY3s are data sets of hourly values of solar radiation and meteorological elements for a 1-year period. Their intended use is for computer simulations of solar energy conversion systems and building systems to facilitate performance comparisons of different system types, configurations, and locations in the United States and its territories. Because they represent typical rather than extreme conditions, they are not suited for designing systems to meet the worst-case conditions occurring at a location. -NREL

May 042011
 

Bright Energy Solutions (Moorhead Public Service/Missouri River Energy Services) is offering an Excel spreadsheet to help you calculate cost savings and payback potential of lighting retrofits. It can be found under the Lighting New Construction and Lighting Retrofit section of their Energy Calculators For Your Home or Business webpage.

Continue reading »

Apr 222011
 

Bright Energy Solutions (Missouri River Energy Services/Moorhead Public Service) has added custom incentives for qualified indoor LED lighting installed in commercial and industrial facilities. “In order to be considered for a custom incentive, all LED products must be either Energy Star® qualified or approved by the Design Lights (TM) Consortium. Check out the latest Design Lights Qualified Products List and Energy Star Products. If you are considering the use of indoor LED lighting in commercial and industrial facilities please contact your local utility prior to the ordering of materials. Preapproval is required for all items to be considered in the Custom Incentive Program.”

In addition to these custom rebates Bright Energy offers specific incentives for Exit lights, reach in refrigerated case lighting, Energy Star qualified recessed downlights, and Energy Star qualified recessed downlight retrofit kits. These specific incentives are listed the Lighting Retrofit and Lighting New Construction application forms.

Feb 152011
 

According to Brian Hammarsten of Xcel Energy, “Last year (2010) customers took advantage of more than $20 million that we budgeted for rebates and incentives for energy efficiency measures.”

Xcel is  lowering their rebate on Parking Garage Light fixtures from $125 to $85. This is due to price drops in the wholesale cost of these fixtures…

In 2010 we increased customer rebate levels on most of the products covered by our Lighting Efficiency program. These rebates help our customers offset the higher cost of more efficient equipment by funding a reasonable portion of each project, not to exceed 60 percent of project cost.

However, economic conditions changed considerably later in the year and the cost of the equipment – particularly parking garage lighting – was not as high as originally anticipated. And while reduced cost is good news for customers, it also means we must follow suit when setting our rebate structure.

Dec 292010
 

Bright Energy Solutions has updated their rebate program for the 2011 calendar year. “All application forms have been revised and will be available at www.brightenergysolutions.com on January 2, 2011.” This applies to customers of Moorhead Public Service along with customers of Missouri River Energy Services and their utility partners. From their press release…

Summary of 2011 Changes…

New Construction Lighting Program for Businesses

  • T8 fixtures with CEE qualified 28 watt lamps and ballasts have been added with incentives up to $9 for a 4 lamp fixture
  • T8 high bay fixtures, T5 high bay fixtures, and CEE Qualified High Performance T8 Systems have decreased incentives
  • Energy Star LED recessed downlights have been added at $25
  • Energy Star LED recessed downlights have been added at $25

Residential HVAC and Energy Star Appliances

  • Programmable thermostats have been added at $25 each
  • Energy Star refrigerators have been added when an old working refrigerator is removed for recycling during installation of the new refrigerator

Food Service

  • Energy Star commercial dishwashers have been added
  • Kitchen hood and make up air unit controls have been added
  • Energy Star convection oven incentives have decreased
  • Refrigeration (See Specialty Measures Applicaton Form)
  • ECM evaporator fan motors in walk-in coolers and freezers have been added
  • LED lighting in refrigerated cases has been changed to include both new and retrofitted cases

Compressed Air Systems

  • Variable frequency drive air compressors have been added to the Motors/Pumps/VFD Program
  • Air leak detection surveys and compressed air system energy efficiency audits have been added as new programs
Oct 052010
 

I recieved an email from Hanley Wood University. They are offering five online courses related to lighting design. The courses are free thanks to their sponsors. I don’t know how good they are but they are timely…

Daylight Harvesting or Controlling Electric Light in Response to Daylight
Sponsored by: Leviton Lighting Management Systems

  • Define what daylight harvesting is and several benefits associated with this strategy
  • List daylight harvesting design control considerations and related components
  • Determine the best applications to take advantage of daylight harvesting controls

Introduction to Tubular Daylighting Devices
Sponsored by: Solatube

  • Benefits of daylighting in multiple building environments
  • Differentiate between different daylighting strategies and identify advantages and disadvantages of different strategies
  • Tubular daylighting devices are different from other daylighting product categories

LED Lighting Education for Specifiers
Sponsored by: Acuity Brands

  • Technology that makes LEDs so dynamic and powerful
  • Compare and contrast LED technology to alternative, more traditional light sources
  • Appropriate applications for LED lighting
  • Projected future of LEDs in architectural and lighting design

Lighting for Learning: Best Practices for Classroom Lighting
Sponsored by: Peerless

  • Learning environment is improved upon by changing lighting options
  • Describe at least two control settings and how they impact light quantity and quality in a school setting
  • How and why the Collaborative for High Performance Schools seeks to improve interior lighting
  • Describe how lighting can affect the economics of a school budget

What is the Big Deal with LED Lighting? How can LED Lighting Improve Projects I am Working on Today?
Sponsored by: CREE Lighting

  • History, present and future of LED technology
  • Describe at least three benefits of using LED technology, particularly related to energy savings, and see examples of LEDs in several architectural applications
  • Useful tips on how to prevent potential pitfalls in your projects, by learning more about how to properly specify LED fixtures
Jul 202010
 

Finally I have some good news for North Dakota energy customers- we’re getting rebates. It has been at least ten years since we had rebates in the state…

As of June 1, 2010, Xcel Energy’s North Dakota business customers can earn rebates for installing new, qualifying energy-efficient lighting or heating equipment. These rebates are part of the national stimulus funds being distributed in North Dakota; as a result, limited rebate funds are available. Rebates will be awarded on a first-come, first-served basis until funds are depleted or December 31, 2011, whichever comes first.

North Dakota business customers can earn up to $15,000 in total conservation rebates but can only submit one rebate application per technology (heating efficiency and lighting efficiency).

Some restrictions apply; see additional details, rebate tables and forms at www.xcelenergy.com/rebates or call 1-800-481-4700 and ask about North Dakota rebates.

Heating, Ventilation, and Cooling (HVAC) Equipment Rebates

Hot-water boiler | min 92% efficient | $2,500/million BTUH up to $15,000 per boiler
Hot-water boiler | min 85% efficient | $800/million BTUH up to $15,000 per boiler
Steam boilers | min 81% efficient | $500/million BTUH up to $15,000 per boiler
Furnace | min 95% AFUE | $500/furnace
Furnace | min 90% AFUE | $200/furnace

Lighting Rebates

Rebates for the equipment listed below are available-up to $0.40 per watt saved, up to 75 percent of the equipment cost.

  • T8 fixtures
  • Low-watt T8 lamps
  • Lighting optimization
  • T5 fixtures
  • High-bay fluorescent fixtures
  • Compact fluorescent lamps/ fixtures (pin-based only)
  • Parking garage fluorescent fixtures
 Posted by at 9:18 am
May 102010
 

There is some concert that Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFL) are not safe. In the early days there were issues with end of life and using the wrong CFL in the wrong application. Recently Underwriters Laboratories (UL) looked  at the CFL. They found, “CFLs do not pose any fire or shock hazard when used in a light fixture, controller, or switch that traditionally has been used for an incandescent source.” –May 2010 AL

The study examined CFL substitution in a variety of fixture types and found that even a CFL with the highest heat output still emits less heat than a 40W incandescent bulb. UL also looked at a lamp’s end-of-life characteristics. This is an area of particular concern for consumers, since earlier generations of CFL products have been rumored to make popping sounds or produce smoke when installed in an incandescent socket. The study also explored what happens when CFLs are used in conjunction with lighting controls such as motion detectors, wireless controls, and dimmers. No safety issues were unearthed here, but the test did indicate that there were issues such as flashing, flickering, poor light output, and reduced lamp life that might impact consumer satisfaction with performance. UL is quick to note that a CFL’s lifespan will be reduced substantially when installed in fixtures where switches are turned off and on frequently.

I’d like to add, that it is bad idea to a regular CFL on a dimmer. It may not explode but it will probably fail instantly. If you have a dimmer on the circuit and you want to use Compact Fluorescent Lamps, either removed the dimmer or use a dimming CFL. TCP has some nice dimming CFLs.

Many people are concerned by the mercury that CFLs contain. But what they fail to realize is the leading source of mercury emissions in the United States is from coal-fired power plants. And where CFLs can be recycled, the mercury from coal is going right into the atmosphere. I invite you to read all “25 Truths About Green” in the Fortune April 2010 Fortune magazine issue.

Considering that CFLs consume up to 75% less electricity than traditional light bulbs, using them decreases the mercury in the atmosphere. According to Energy Star, a 60-watt incandescent bulb adds 5.8 milligrams of mercury into the environment over its lifetime, vs. 1.8 milligrams for a comparable CFL.
Fortune April 2010

Aside: if you want to see dangerous Fluorescents check out the photo by Craig Cutler. Hot wires running to bare lamp sockets on a paper backdrop.