Gas Technology: Tankless solution saves money

The solutions to reducing commercial and industrial energy bills are not always obvious, but with work and some help from your utility you can find them.


Owner Works with Utility to Reduce Energy Bill


The solutions to reducing commercial and industrial energy bills are not always obvious, but with work and some help from your utility you can find them. An example is the steps taken at Champion Cleaners in Birmingham, Alabama. Here, a representative of Alagasco suggested the owner switch to tankless water heaters and replace a boiler. The owner now uses 25% less gas at the facility.

Looking for an Answer

Champion Cleaners operates three laundry and dry-cleaning facilities near Birmingham, Alabama. At one of the facilities, the one in Vestavia, the owner, David Whitehurst, asked for help from his gas supplier, Alagasco, to reduce his energy bill. He also wanted achieve a better supply of hot water when needed for cleaning operations.

The Alagasco representative, Clay Erwin, studied the installation looking for potential energy saving opportunities. He suggested that the owner replace an existing 100-gallon tank-type water heater with tankless units. In addition, he recommended replacement of an older boiler with a new high-efficiency vertical unit. The boiler selected was the Cleaver-Brooks Clearfire unit, with full- and part-load efficiencies up to 88%.

Consistent Hot Water

Owner Whitehurst had mentioned that one problem he had encountered was inconsistent water temperatures when conducting cleaning operations. Erwin found that the tank system was undersized for the periodic heavy hot water demands, and recommended replacement of the tank water heater with three tankless units that would supply on demand ample hot water at exactly the temperature needed. Three tankless units by Rinnai were installed on an exterior wall of the building. This also freed up indoor floor space that had been used by the tank water heater.

With the improved system, all three units are used when Champion is operating its equipment at 100% capacity. However, when demand is lower, Champion saves energy by running just the number of units needed to produce hot water for the needed cleaning process. According to Whitehurst, “The new equipment is not just using less energy for every gallon of water, but also the precise temperature control gives me a spot-free garment, which is an improvement from my old water heater.”

Results Show at the Meter

Since installation of the new equipment, gas usage has dropped about 25%, using the same volume of hot water. The new equipment also reduced carbon emissions at Champion Cleaners by 25%. Whitehurst adds, “Never did I have to change the way I operate my business to achieve more efficient results. Every part of the process was seamless — from planning to installation to follow up service.”

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