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Whoops, 5KW electric heater breaks

Post in 'The Green Room' started by mbcijim, Dec 7, 2011.

  1. mbcijim

    mbcijim Member

    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2008
    Messages:
    419
    Loc:
    Schuylkill County, Pa
    I am a commercial landlord and own a bunch of wal-mart sized industrial buildings. One of my tenants calls me and tells me their electric bill is way higher than it should be. Like $1,200/month and would probably realistically expect it to be $500-$700/month.

    So I put together my investigative team (which is the HVAC guy, the electric guy, and my facility manager) and we go do a tour of the building. The sprinkler room is outside, by itself. Rather poor shape, cinder block, not insulated with holes to the outside (you can see through the block at places). I haven't been in this room in probably 4 years. Open the door. Instant Sauna. WTF???

    So hanging inside is a 5KW electric heater. HVAC guy walks over and turns the thermostat, nothing. "Thermostat is broke, it's running full bore." So roughly 120 KW per day, 30 days a month, 3,600 KW wasted per month. We pulled out the old bills and this was broke at least a year, maybe a couple of years.

    Doh! Guess we figured out why the bill was so high. Good news is for about $10k we figured out how to lower our annual operating costs by about $15k/year. As our company grows I really don't know how the large companies do it. There are so many small important parts that you have to pay attention to.

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  2. woodgeek

    woodgeek Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jan 27, 2008
    Messages:
    2,816
    Loc:
    SE PA
    Assuming you meant $10 for the thermostat, that's an 'ok' ROI: about 50% per day.
  3. mbcijim

    mbcijim Member

    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2008
    Messages:
    419
    Loc:
    Schuylkill County, Pa
    No, I meant $10,000. We were running an exposed sprinkler line through a 5,000 sft building that has been unoccupied since 2006 and heating that area also with electrical heat. Because the building is basically abandoned we are going to bury the sprinkler line ($5k) and turn off the heat. And the building has two electric services (doesn't need both), so for the cost of $3k we can run 1 new wire and shut off the 2nd account, which has a $150/minimum per month.
  4. spirilis

    spirilis Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2009
    Messages:
    509
    Loc:
    New Market, MD
    Ew, that sucks. Nothing more mind blowing than thinking that you just used heat which was derived from electricity which was generated from ~3x its btu worth in coal, and it wasn't even necessary...
  5. Slow1

    Slow1 Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Nov 26, 2008
    Messages:
    2,663
    Loc:
    Eastern MA
    Sounds like a good argument for keeping an eye on your energy bills and performing an audit of operations periodically. Money to be saved is money to be made.

    Glad you found those things quickly - perhaps you can find more elsewhere... a bit of insulating or re-working of your lighting somewhere perhaps?
  6. mbcijim

    mbcijim Member

    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2008
    Messages:
    419
    Loc:
    Schuylkill County, Pa
    We've switched out light fixtures on a few thousand fixtures at this point. We could always do more with insulation but at this point our tenants are paying the heat bills. But yes, we always have to pay attention to technology, grants, and energy costs.

    Lights have a great payback. With the current subsidies they pay for themselves in less than a year in most cases.

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