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Tips to Increasing Boiler Efficiency and Heat Recovery

As we all know, fuel is not cheap and costs are on the rise. Energy inefficiency in a boiler system is caused not only by an aging system, but also by heat loss. The more inefficient the boiler, the higher the fuel costs; but there are ways to combat this problem and reclaim the lost heat and reduce facility operating costs. Below are 10 tips that can be used to educate plant and facility managers on how to maximize boiler performance:


  1. Maintain, Maintain, Maintain – following manufacturer recommendations on annual boiler maintenance is the easiest way to ensure the boiler will continue to run efficiently.
  2. Proper Water Treatment – if water treatment is not done correctly, you will see a loss in heat transfer ability due to particulates clogging up internal boiler tubes. A deaerator can be used in most applications to increase water temperature and remove most of the particulates from the water.
  3. Install a High Turndown Burner – this will increase energy savings by reducing on/of cycles.
  4. Add Variable-Speed Drive Controls – installing these controls on the boiler feed pumps will enable a motor to operate only at the required speed at any given moment and save energy by allowing an operator to fine-tune the system to run at optimal conditions.
  5. Incorporate Parallel Positioning – doing so will allow the burner to maintain excess air levels more precisely and the boiler to run at its most capable efficiency point.
  6. Include O2 Trim – adding an oxygen sensor/transmitter in the exhaust gas will maintain peak efficiency by minimizing excess air and optimize the air-to-fuel ratio.
  7. Integrate Lead/Lag – this enables boilers to operate in sync with fluctuating steam loads by sequencing the operation of multiple boilers and matching system load.
  8. Incorporate an Economizer – incorporating heat recovery into a boiler system will improve efficiency, and an economizer can increase efficiency up to 8 percent. Depending on the boiler type, fuel used and operating conditions, a standard or condensing economizer can be installed.
  9. Recover and Repurpose Heat from Blowdown – you can do this one of two ways; by installing a blowdown heat recovery unit or a flash economizer. Both will capture heat and reuse it, with typical payback seen in less than a year.
  10. Use Exchangers to Preheat Inlet Water – similar to a blowdown heat recovery unit, an exchanger can be added to preheat a boiler feedwater system or deaerator.


View Process Heating’s Article for a more in-depth explanation of each tip.

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