Using Flow Meters To Improve Building Energy Efficiency

We write a considerable amount of content concerning improving a building’s energy efficiency and how to manage it with a flow meter. This guest article from Sara Thompson provides some useful information on the subject.

Buildings in the United States accounted for 41 percent of the nation’s energy consumption in 2010, 44 percent more than the usual scapegoat, transportation.

Measuring and monitoring the energy consumption of processes occurring within a building is crucial for reducing its energy demands. To measure, monitor and subsequently reduce the energy consumption of their buildings, a facility manager’s access to accurate flow-metering technology has become vital. Installing a flow meter allows one to track the energy consumption of individual processes throughout a building, which is also known as sub-metering. Information gathered from the meters can be used to locate and address problems, such as leaks and other equipment malfunctions. Meter data can also be used to warrant system improvements, identify opportunities to reduce equipment maintenance, and learn how systems respond to different conditions.

CMAG flow meter

Choosing the proper type of flow meter requires a thorough understanding of what the specific application requires, including the properties of the process fluid and the overall installation. The current market offers a range of flow meters that provide the basic data needed to evaluate efficiency. Four types to consider are:

Differential pressure: This type of  flowmeter is applicable to most industries, such as mineral processing, pulp and paper, petroleum, chemical, water, and wastewater industries. While other technologies may perform better than differential pressure flowmeters in several applications, this type of  flowmeter is still widely used due to the user’s long-standing familiarity with the technology.
Electromagnetic: More commonly known as a magmeter, the electromagnetic flow meter requires a conducting fluid such as water that contains ions, and an electrical insulating pipe surface such as a rubber-lined steel tube. This type of meter can provide heightened accuracy and a greater range of functions. An Electromagnetic flow meter is often the best choice for the majority of chilled water applications.
Vortex: This type of flow meter is well suited for the measurement of compressed fluids such as gases and steam. With no moving parts and a linear relationship to flow, the technology offers a reliable and accurate measurement. Vortex flow meters work well in HVAC systems with fluctuating pressure and temperatures, including boilers, burners and compressed air systems.
Clamp-on ultrasonic: These are rate and totalizing flow meters which are capable of measuring liquids, of all types, non-intrusively. they clamp onto the outside of the pipe and measure fluid through ultrasound signals. The meter has no contact with the fluid and therefore does not impede flow or contaminate the fluid. Clamp-on ultrasonic meters are well suited for systems experiencing periods of low flow, and for retrofits. They can be used for a wide variety of systems including condenser water, drinking water, thermal storage, river and lake water, and chemical feed.

By applying the proper flow meter to your system, you may be able to reduce your building’s energy consumption and in turn, improve your business’ bottom line.

Author bio: Sara Thompson earned her journalism degree from the University of Oregon. She lives in Portland and writes about environmental issues and energy consumption on behalf of many small businesses in the area. In her free time, Sara likes to cook, sew and spend time with her family and friends. -GRM

Photo credit: Cadillac Meter



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