Published onSeptember 23rd, 2021
Boiler and Heating Controls for Multifamily Properties
Whether you own a duplex in New York City or an apartment building that takes up an entire block, regulating the boiler and heat can be a real headache. But it doesn’t have to be with some forethought and new technology for boiler and heating controls. Here are some tips from Calray Boilers on how to get a better handle on your property’s interior temperature as the autumn and winter approach.
Use Pump Controllers in the Boiler Room to Protect Equipment
Less manpower required
There are lots of places to use automation in a multifamily property. If you own or manage a larger apartment building, a good way to start is by using pump controllers in the boiler room to monitor and run your pumps, such as those used for the water feeder and steam return. This not only protects your expensive equipment but also offers increased boiler room safety. It also reduces the amount of manpower needed to run your heat and hot water production.
Pump controllers can detect changes to your boiler system’s pressure, temperature, water flow, and more even before a human would. They can adjust the controls to offset these changes or even shut the system down to prevent massive damage in emergency situations. They’re ideal for freeing up staff for other tasks or when you are short on workers for the night shift, for example.
Try a Wi-Fi-Controlled Thermostat with Sensors
A solution for smaller rental properties
If you own a less sizable rental building, such as a four- or five-bedroom converted townhouse, you may not need much in the way of automation if everyone’s heating comes from the same boiler. However, a Wi-Fi-controlled central thermostat can be a great investment, especially if you don’t live on the premises yourself.
It can be a challenge to make all your tenants happy. But, using strategically placed sensors with your thermostat can feed it the information it needs to get the indoor temperature just right, along with listening to your occupants during the first week or two you test the system. You may have to relocate the sensors a few times to make sure you’re getting readings from all the right spots. But eventually, you should find a happy place for everyone involved.
Once you have the ideal settings down, you can automate the process. This way, heat will rise in the morning and lower at bedtime, which saves you money and reduces wasted energy. With a Wi-Fi thermostat, you can control it from afar. If the thermometer takes a dip, you can adjust the heat upward. Tenants home during the day over the holidays? You can program the thermostat not to lower the heat as it normally would.
Install Programmable Thermostats and Thermostatic Radiator Valves
If you think it’s hard to control the heat in a duplex or brownstone, it’s even more difficult with a large apartment building. These properties usually have steam heat radiators, so giving every unit its own thermostat isn’t possible. Or is it?
New home heat technology now lets tenants control the heat output in their own units, even if one commercial boiler supplies all their steam. Wait, you’re probably asking, wouldn’t tenants have conflicting commands if they’re all using their own thermostats on the same boiler?
The secret to tenant happiness here is to install thermostatic radiator valves in each apartment, together with a coordinated thermostat. This lets tenants have their desired amount of warmth in each room of the apartment, reducing complaints of overheating or not enough heat. It also helps eliminate wasted energy (a cost savings to landlords) because they can lower the heat in rooms not being used regularly or in the entire unit when they’re not home.
Maximize Energy Efficiency with Boiler Controllers
No worries with temperature fluctuations
As well as boiler control through thermostatic valves or unit sensors, there are control systems that evaluate the weather to adjust settings. Instead of having your boiler running full blast through a sudden week of winter thaw, you can have it automatically lower itself. A 2014 government study by the federal Department of Energy showed this practice reduced utility bills by 19 percent.
Known as outdoor reset control or ORC, this type of monitoring works with both hot water heat and steam heat. In the case of the former, the water temperature of the boiler is adjusted; with the latter, the duration of the steam cycle becomes the variable. These controls can be integrated with multiple boilers and circulation loops in very large properties. They can also be connected to computer servers to send data for various tracking purposes.
The premise has actually been around for about 50 years, but the technology has been greatly improved recently, making the controllers highly efficient. Their size has become smaller, and their versatility greater too, making them appealing for smaller rental properties and even single-family homes.
Remember to Schedule Settings for Vacant Units
No frozen pipes or wasted heat
One final tip: don’t forget to regulate the temperature properly in any vacant units you may have. Using automatic settings is often most effective, as this will override any manual turning up or down of the thermostat by people working in or showing a unit.
The main goal here is to prevent any frozen pipes by having the heat turned completely off by accident, but it also saves money by eliminating wasted heat. When you have preset temperatures with acceptable ranges, you don’t have to worry about remembering to go to the unit yourself or to turn down the thermostat via Wi-Fi controls remotely.
Want to learn more about controller options for your multifamily property? Contact the experts at Calray Boilers, New York City’s hyper-local blue-chip boiler pros for nearly 100 years. You can call us at 212-722-5506, or use our online form to schedule an appointment at your convenience.