Prepared by Paul Webb, MIE Chartered Energy Manager
Now we are going into the change of season from summer to winter. Everyone’s heating systems are going to be turned on and ramped up. The plant rooms are going to start to become warm. But how warm should they be? We often find that there is missing lagging that has not been replaced from repair works carried out during the summer, this obviously creates heat loss from the pipes.
When you are next in your plant room just review how many additional areas where there is potential heat loss. You will be very surprised to see that there are the following areas that may not have any insulation on:
- End Covers
I am sometimes shocked when I attend plant rooms to see all these additional areas that have not been insulated or lagged, especially as with today’s technologies there have been nicely created ‘Mats’ or ‘Wraps’ for these items which can be customised to fit all.
Insulation of heating pipes and valves can improve Insulation with 15-30% Saving on your heating costs.
These areas are missed off for good reason because of ‘maintenance’ and the lagging teams may not lag these areas because these items need to be maintained. Occasionally there are existing metal clad insulation which is difficult to re-use on all fittings and because it is difficult to re-fit after maintenance it is often found on the floor of the plantroom.
Most plantrooms have up to 40 fittings unlagged and with each fitting being summed to a significant area, the heat losses could be excessive. Have you ever walked into your boiler room and thought this is hot in here? The scenario we need to be achieving is that the plant room is warm but not too warm and all the excess heat that is being produced is going into the building.
I once re-lagged a plant room and we replaced all the valve areas, we then had to block all the door vents as in the winter the boiler room became too cold. The savings made was significant and, in this case, we achieved 30% savings on the heating costs. By installing valve wraps (sometimes called Mats) They provide a robust, flexible insulation that provides maximum heat retention and can be re-used indefinitely.
I often insulate pumps because again there is pipe work that is exposed. I have noticed lately that modern Pumps come with their own insulation. This brings other issues because I have seen these not installed as they have been mistaken for packing.
I would like to point out that only 1 in 10 plant rooms I have visited have benefited from Valve Wraps. Therefore this is a common issue with heating plant. I would recommend that this was reviewed as part of an Energy Assessment or a PPM.
To help me identify ‘Heat Loss’ I use a thermographic camera and the one I use is from ‘Flir’ camera, I would recommend this if you have either a Apple or a Samsung.
It is not that it identifies the heat loss (because that is obvious), but it is that it justifies to the organisation there is heat loss here. Here are some examples. They make perfect sense and they provide a clear example.
To achieve a 15-30% reduction in gas consumption, this remains the most effective package I have come across. These Mats I have installed in every type of commercial property from care homes, hotels, leisure centres, schools, factories to football stadiums. This ‘Measure’ and ‘Opportunity’ across plant rooms makes complete sense and a good return on investment.