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Reliance on An Outdoor Reset Boiler Control: Comfort or Costly?

DALL·E 2023-11-20 15.38.12 - Illustration of a person in an apartment sweating and looking uncomfortable, opening a window during winter. The individual should appear overheated a (1) (1)

Have you ever lived in an apartment where the heat has a mind of its own? It's the middle of winter, and your apartment is scorching hot. No matter how much you fidget with the thermostat, your apartment still feels like a sauna. This annoyance is a reality for many of your tenants, and it often is caused by an over-dependence on a standard part in your building’s heating systems: the outdoor reset boiler control.

Many buildings fall into the trap of relying heavily on outdoor sensors, leading to overheated spaces and inflated heating bills. Why pay for more heat than your tenants actually want? It sounds silly, but many building owners are throwing money away by doing exactly that.

By exploring smarter climate management strategies, you can keep your tenants warm without waste. Let's delve into how a change in approach can mean a season of contentment for you and your residents.

What is an Outdoor Reset Boiler Control?

Back in the 1970s, to combat rising gas prices, a handy invention called the outdoor reset boiler control made its debut. The goal? To keep your building warm without being wasteful with energy. The control uses an outdoor temperature sensor to measure the temperature outside. Based on how cold it is outside, this system adjusts the water temperature in your heating system.

The idea may seem like common sense now, but it was revolutionary when it was introduced: as the temperature outside drops below 55 degrees, the system dials up the heat indoors, ensuring a cozy environment without overheating when it's milder outside, to keep things comfortable while being mindful of energy use.

However, this system isn't perfect. With only boiler outside temperature sensors, it doesn't adjust based on how warm it is inside. It's like that overeager friend who cranks up the heat at the first sign of a chill. On days when the weather jumps between cool and mild, you might find your property generating plenty of unnecessary heat. Yet, this 50-year-old method of heating buildings remains the most common in a centrally heated building today.

This system worked just fine back when building owners didn’t have to worry much about the cost of energy. But today, we have to be much more conscious of how much we’re paying for our building’s energy bills. Even a small percentage swing can add up to a massive amount of money for large buildings.

The Hidden Costs of Inefficient Heating Systems

The core issue with relying on the outdoor reset to control your heat is that it often leads to energy inefficiencies. Your heating system isn’t considering factors like how much sunlight a building gets or how well it's insulated. As a result, apartments become too hot, causing discomfort for your tenants, leading to complaints and a negative association with your building that may impact its long-term value. 

In the middle of winter, it’s common for tenants to open their apartment windows to cool down. When tenants do this, it leads to a significant waste of energy and money. This happens because the heating system has to work harder to replace the heat that's being lost through the open windows. It's a costly and inefficient cycle that can be avoided with better heating management.

If you're overheating your building, you're also increasing carbon emissions. In cities like New York and Boston, strict rules like Local Law 97 and BERDO mean high emissions could cost you hefty fines. These regulations are becoming more common in cities across the U.S., so it's crucial for you, as a building manager, to carefully consider how your heating system operates to avoid these fines.

The good news is that with a few strategic adjustments to the boiler system, many of these issues can be resolved. By integrating smarter temperature controls that consider both internal factors as well as the weather forecast, buildings can achieve a more balanced and efficient heating system. 

Smart Boiler Controls Offer a Solution

Smart boiler controls are a cutting-edge answer to the challenges of central heating in buildings. They take a smarter approach by using a mix of indoor temperature readings, outdoor boiler sensors, and weather forecasts. This combination means the system can adjust the heating in real-time, making sure it's efficient and comfortable. The system automatically fine-tunes itself, turning the boiler on and off when needed. This not only keeps your building perfectly warm but also cuts down on heating costs. The savings on your heating bills can often cover the cost of these smart controls in less than nine months.

Furthermore, smart heating controls make buildings 20% greener and cleaner, offering a cost-effective way to reduce carbon output and comply with carbon legislation​​. By integrating smart heating systems, you future-proof your buildings to meet these evolving environmental standards and avoid surprise fines.

The incorporation of smart controls in heating systems marks a significant shift from the outdated methods of the past. By considering indoor and outdoor factors, these systems save money and enhance the living environment for tenants, making it a win-win for property owners and residents alike.

Ready to learn how your building can reduce energy bills and avoid emission fines? Head here to book time with a Runwise energy consultant today.