With the increased attention being paid to the use of fossil fuels and release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, there is some urgency going into the management of energy use in buildings of all types. It has been found that forty-five percent of energy use comes from consumption in the form of building heating, building cooling, hot water provision, communications devices, lighting and cooking. Management and reduction of these channels is vital to the efforts at reducing our carbon footprint.
The heating, cooling, and hot water management can be helped through the use of ultrasonic heat meters. These instruments can be used to monitor and record the flow rates and temperatures of fluids through pipework in a building. By measuring the heat being put through the structure at various points, and noting peak times of use, engineers can develop an accurate pattern of consumption and distribution. With that type of data, engineers and building managers can plan changes to heating systems to optimize the energy use.
There are several types of heat meters available, and the choice of what to use is dependent on the duration of the monitoring effort needed, the cost or effects of any disruption to the current system, cost of installation, etc. If system downtime is a serious problem, there are options available. There are clamp-on meters available that are fitted onto the outside of the pipe, that are much less expensive to install. They do not require breaking into the pipe or sealing it afterwards. They are simply affixed to the pipe. They also don’t require the pipe to be empty and unused, so there is no downtime. Another benefit is that if any service to the meter is required, all of its working parts are outside the pipework, so dry servicing is possible.
If the monitoring will be done long-term, and a permanent installation is appropriate there are inline heat meters that can be set up and attached to recording devices. These do require breaking into the pipework, so installation and downtime factors must be considered.
One of the other factors that must be considered is the energy supply to the meter itself. If there is no ready power supply for the heat meter, a battery-powered one can be considered. Also, the point where measurement must be taken may be in a small space, or high in a tower. The size of the meter, and need for how it will be placed, must be carefully evaluated.
Once in place and measurement is underway, the engineers and facilities management staff can begin looking at the data coming in. Some heat meters allow for real-time observations of the ebb and flow of energy use. Others will record the data for output into analytical programs. In either case, once measurement is possible, management is possible.
Systems like this have been used in many types of building such as factories, universities, public use buildings, and even a set of 6 cleansing depots around a city which all had a high use of both heating and hot water. In each case, the teams responsible were able to identify problem areas and put solutions put in place that saved significant energy, and therefore, money. Also saved were large quantities of carbon dioxide that would have been put into the atmosphere.
Managing the energy that buildings use can have considerable benefits. To manage things, though, measurements must be made. Once the data is available, actions can be taken that will help both the economy and the environment. Heat meters can be the measurement tools that bring those benefits.