Can You Use Waste Heat to Warm Your Cold-Climate Warehouse?

If you own a warehouse or manufacturing facility in a part of the country that sees more snow than sunshine, you may feel that the battle between the outside elements and your electric bill is constant. For facilities that generate some heat through mechanical activities, the installation of a waste heat recovery unit or heat recovery ventilation system could help you take advantage of the heat already being produced by your business without further drawing on public utilities to maintain your buildings at a comfortable or habitable temperature. Read on to learn more about your waste heat recovery options in a cold climate, as well as which of these options may be right for your business.

What are your options for waste heat recovery or recycling?

Although the Great Recession was a difficult time for many manufacturing facilities as fuel and commodity prices skyrocketed and orders slowed, this period did lead to a number of technological advances designed to reduce energy consumption (and therefore overhead costs). One such technology that is quickly working its way through the manufacturing world is waste heat recovery.

On a general level, waste heat recovery involves the use of compressors or other pieces of equipment to extract heat from waste air (like steam from wastewater or smoke from a diesel generator). This extracted heat is then stored for later use or even used to generate electricity that can be used to power your business. Some large-scale manufacturing facilities that don't find it cost effective to generate their own electricity have installed waste heat recovery units to collect their waste heat and then choose to sell the generated electricity (either back to the utility company or to the surrounding businesses) for a profit. 

As a bonus, this waste heat recovered by your system can often be stored for an extended period of time, allowing you to take full advantage of the heat produced by your business during the warmer summer months or to carry your business through a shutdown when no new energy is being produced.  

Another piece of equipment that can help defray your energy costs is a heat recovery ventilator. Unlike a waste heat recovery unit, which collects and converts large volumes of hot air to electricity, a heat recovery ventilator collects fresh air from the outside, removes the heat from this air through a condensing unit, and uses this heat to warm the interior air. These systems can improve ventilation while reducing your heating costs.

Which waste heat recovery options are best for your business?

The right waste heat recovery system for your business largely depends on the amount of heat generated and the size of the space you need to warm. If you run a small manufacturing facility and a larger climate-controlled warehouse, you may need an entire waste heat recovery unit to take full advantage of all the heat being produced by your facility. Installing a smaller unit or a heat recovery ventilator only may not be cost effective, as the amount of heat recovered proportional to the amount of space you need to keep warm is likely to be too small. 

Those with a compact space to keep warm or a more "office-style" warehouse environment should be able to benefit from a heat recovery ventilation unit. This will improve ventilation in the warehouse or other space while reducing your energy bills. In very cold climates, the installation of a heat recovery ventilation unit is almost always worth the cost, although those in slightly warmer environments may be able to achieve similar efficiency with lower-cost, separate exhaust-only and induction-only systems.  

For more information about commercial heating, contact a company like Mercury Tec.