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Insulation Insights, Fall / Winter 2015Insulation Insights Fall 2015

Energy Audits and Insulation Blankets

Steam Distribution Manifold, prior to insulation blankets being installed
Steam Distribution Manifold, prior to insulation blankets being installed

One of the issues that large industrial / commercial facilities face is how to safely and efficiently heat their premises. Exposed process piping and components can be a source of energy loss, as well as a potential danger to personnel. While much of the piping can be covered with permanent insulation, many components need to be accessible for periodic maintenance, or for safety reasons. Not being candidates for permanent insulation, these components are often left uncovered and bare of any insulation. The result is three fold - heat escaping into the environment, potential danger to personnel, and rising energy bills from inefficient heating.

Removable Insulation Blankets on Valves
Removable Insulation Blankets on Valves

An 'Energy Audit' can help a company determine where it is falling short in it's heating system, and what steps it should take to remedy the situation. "Many people are simply unaware of how much energy, and thus $, they are wasting by not properly insulating exposed components along their heating system", notes Rael Herman, one of Firwin Corp's in house certified Energy Appraisers. "Covering up those uninsulated valves, heat exchangers, and other components with removable insulation blankets can really save a facility money, not to mention the improvement in ambient temperature and worker safety" said Rael.

How an Energy Audit Works

A Certified Energy Appraiser visits the facility to identify what components are candidates for insulation; this will typically include uncovered components, such as:

  • valves
  • heat exchangers
  • manways
  • expansion joints.
Valve being measured
Valve being measured

Each part is measured and catalogued. Armed with the necessary information, the auditor then calculates the surface area of the exposed components that are conducting heat. He is then able to arrive at a cost comparison, contrasting the current cost of operating the component as is, versus the lower cost of operating the same component once it is properly insulated. The final product of the audit is a report identifying the components that are candidates for insulation, and how much $ the company can expect to save.

Armed with the Energy Audit, the facility owner can then get quotes as to what the cost would be to insulate the components in question, and perform a payback analysis by comparing the cost of the insulation versus the amount of $ / year in savings that the company would realize as a result of the increased energy efficiency.

"Once the Energy Audit has been performed, most companies see the value in insulating their exposed components, not only from a money saving viewpoint, but also because of safety and environmental considerations", said Rael.

Case Study: Hospital Steam Facility, Western Canada

Firwin Corp was recently called in to provide removable insulation blankets as a follow up to an energy audit for a large hospital in Western Canada. The hospital heats its facility by a "high pressure steam and condensate return". High pressure steam (350°F) circulates through radiators to heat the various portions of the hospital. As it circulates and begins to lose heat, the steams condensates, and is returned to the boiler for re-heating. Re-heating this condensate adds to the efficiency of the system, as although the condensate has cooled, it still has some heat left in it, and so reheating it back to 350°F is more efficient than creating new steam from room temperature water.

Obtaining Measurements
Obtaining Measurements

The original energy audit (not done by Firwin) had identified 40 components that were candidates for removable insulation blankets. These were mostly smaller high temperature valves that had been left uncovered when the facility was built. The energy audit identified them as candidate for removable insulation, which would help the hospital save money while also alleviating the high temperatures of the mechanical rooms, and increase worker safety.

Steam Distribution Manifold, after insulation blankets being installed
Steam Distribution Manifold, after insulation blankets being installed

While Firwin personnel was on site obtaining the measurements necessary to construct the custom fitted removable covers, 20 more components were identified. Eventually, both the original components and the additional ones identified by Firwin were covered by removable blankets.

For more information on Energy Audits for your facility, please contact us directly.

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