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Old 10-17-2011, 04:57 PM   #1
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What would happen if I make a 5 zone boiler into a one zone? Need advice


Hi,
I just bought a 5 unit apartment building and each apartment has its own thermostat and zone from the hot water boiler. The previous owner had an astronomical gas bill each winter because, I guess, the tenants put the heat up high. If I can't figure out something else, I will put thermostat guards on each one, set the temp and lock it. I was wondering about just leaving one thermostat and making the 5 zones into one zone Like I have in my other 5 unit forced hot air building. If I did this should I leave the thermostat on the ground floor or the 3rd floor? Does this make sense or would the building consume less gas if each apartment regulated its heat according to its needs? Thank you for your help.

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Old 10-17-2011, 05:17 PM   #2
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What would happen if I make a 5 zone boiler into a one zone? Need advice


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Originally Posted by h82diet View Post
Hi,
I just bought a 5 unit apartment building and each apartment has its own thermostat and zone from the hot water boiler. The previous owner had an astronomical gas bill each winter because, I guess, the tenants put the heat up high. If I can't figure out something else, I will put thermostat guards on each one, set the temp and lock it. I was wondering about just leaving one thermostat and making the 5 zones into one zone Like I have in my other 5 unit forced hot air building. If I did this should I leave the thermostat on the ground floor or the 3rd floor? Does this make sense or would the building consume less gas if each apartment regulated its heat according to its needs? Thank you for your help.

I can't answer that but if you are planning on renting out these five units then I'd think you'd be breaking all kinds of laws by not allowing each residence to control their own comfort. Maybe I'm missing something but what you are planning sounds illegal and immoral.

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Old 10-17-2011, 05:28 PM   #3
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What would happen if I make a 5 zone boiler into a one zone? Need advice


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Old 10-17-2011, 06:58 PM   #4
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What would happen if I make a 5 zone boiler into a one zone? Need advice


I have 14 units and only three regulate their own heat because it's electric and they pay their own bill. All the others are in buildings with one furnace or boiler and one thermostat. They are all heavily regulated by L&I with annual inspections. I'm guessing that because all of my buildings are converted Victorian single family homes and over 100 years in age they are grandfathered. Looking for some ideas on these thermostats. This building does not generate enough income to spend $1200 a month for gas this winter.
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Old 10-17-2011, 06:58 PM   #5
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What would happen if I make a 5 zone boiler into a one zone? Need advice


If you put a lock box on, the tenant will break it.
Maybe you should look into the cause of the high gas bill, such as leaking windows and doors, maybe insulation issues need to be addressed.
I have seen these types of questions pop up from time to time on different boards. The landlord usually takes some verbal abuse. Think about that in respect to your tenants.
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Old 10-17-2011, 07:06 PM   #6
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What would happen if I make a 5 zone boiler into a one zone? Need advice


I do know the attic has NO insulation and I plan on blowing some in but that shouldn't be the cause of such an outrageous bill. I think the tenants just crank up the heat all winter long. The windows are new but the building is 3 bricks thick with no wall insulation... just like my other buildings. I keep the heat at 70 in one forced hot air building and the thermostat is on the ground floor. No one has ever complained.
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Old 10-17-2011, 07:09 PM   #7
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What would happen if I make a 5 zone boiler into a one zone? Need advice


Insulation is there for a reason- to keep from having outrageous utility bills. If the structure is leaking air or suffering form excessive heat loss, its not going to matter where you set the thermostat, its still going to run.
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Old 10-17-2011, 07:20 PM   #8
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What would happen if I make a 5 zone boiler into a one zone? Need advice


As long as the heating system can maintain (65F 365 days a year national code, 68 for many local codes) doesn't matter if it has 50 thermostats or none(none is for a different thread).

Let the thermostats as they are. And have an outdoor reset installed and set up that it only allows the boiler water temp to get high enough to heat the apartments to 70F. That way, if they like it cooler, they can set it lower. if they like it hotter, they can get a space heater.
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Old 10-17-2011, 10:12 PM   #9
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What would happen if I make a 5 zone boiler into a one zone? Need advice


I'll call my plumber and ask him if he knows what an outdoor reset is... sounds like a great idea.
And I am a big fan of insulation. This one building I bought had no insulation at all anywhere. I had blown in insulation put in everywhere... walls ceilings and the tenants said that their highest electric bill for heat in the coldest winter months was only $40!
Thank you very much for your advice, I appreciate it.
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Old 10-17-2011, 10:36 PM   #10
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What would happen if I make a 5 zone boiler into a one zone? Need advice


Quote:
Originally Posted by h82diet View Post
Hi,
I just bought a 5 unit apartment building and each apartment has its own thermostat and zone from the hot water boiler. The previous owner had an astronomical gas bill each winter because, I guess, the tenants put the heat up high. If I can't figure out something else, I will put thermostat guards on each one, set the temp and lock it. I was wondering about just leaving one thermostat and making the 5 zones into one zone Like I have in my other 5 unit forced hot air building. If I did this should I leave the thermostat on the ground floor or the 3rd floor? Does this make sense or would the building consume less gas if each apartment regulated its heat according to its needs? Thank you for your help.
For one it would be unethical, and two how would you determine what each person's comfort level is. Only way to better and effectively control and monitor, would be to use something like the Proliphix thermostats ((http://www.proliphix.com) You would need some type of Internet comm at each location. Another way of monitoring is to use a remote monitor also, that tells you the temp, which also would have to have Internet access)). Also, have you had an energy audit done on the building and its mechanical s regarding the boiler? Also, as for the bills, it could be due to incorrect use of the system by tenants, could be due to incorrect billing, who knows.

Really suggest sitting down with an environmental engineer to go over everything, and you can also plug in the info at http://hespro.lbl.gov/pro to see how the building compares, and what is the best solution. I bet you that if you look at the building, you will find that it is poorly insulated like most older structures, has a whole lot of air leakage like older structures, bad windows, bad doors, and tenants do not understand proper use of the system, in the way that they can help to keep their rent lower.

If you currently have tenants, set up a tenant meeting and let them pick your brain, and you pick theirs, in how everyone can work together. Also on the plus side, it would allow them to get to know who they are renting from better, and would make you more of a human, than just some blank entity that collects money and they never hear or see from.

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Last edited by gregzoll; 10-17-2011 at 10:44 PM.
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