Commercial Boiler Control Tune-Ups

Russ Landry, P.E.

Project Update

Researchers have now selected sites for field testing. They worked with five contractors to recruit 18 sites for the study. They have been monitoring the sites, and control tune-ups will begin this summer and continue through the 2019–2020 winter.

The sites selected include a combination of apartment buildings and schools. Researchers are monitoring gas use and a number of boiler system operating conditions so that the results of the test can be used to update the state Technical Reference Manual with boiler control adjustment measures. Read the full update. 


Why this research is needed

Commercial boiler tune-up programs currently provide about 8% of total portfolio savings for natural gas utilities in Minnesota. CIP boiler tune-up programs have primarily achieved savings through burner air-fuel ratio adjustments and have not explicitly addressed adjustments to boiler temperature and staging controls. A recent CARD-funded study of commercial condensing boilers found that adjustment of boiler control settings can provide substantially more savings than traditional burner tune-ups. Boiler temperature and staging/modulation control adjustments were projected to provide more than three times the savings of burner tune-up adjustments. With the increasing dominance of high-efficiency condensing boilers in new construction and boiler replacement situations, expanding the scope of boiler tune-ups to include control optimization provides an important opportunity to update programs and increase their savings per participant. This project will quantify actual savings achieved through such control adjustments for condensing boilers. 

Project process and expected outcomes

This project will develop and field test an expanded scope commercial boiler tune-up protocol that goes beyond burner adjustments, to provide a comprehensive review of adjustments to boiler control settings that increase energy savings. A protocol for performing commercial boiler control tune-ups will involve collaboration with a number of industry professionals. Field tests will be conducted in approximately 20 buildings to evaluate costs, savings, operations, persistence, and market and implementation issues. This will provide information that utilities can use to plan CIP program additions or modifications that achieve more boiler “tune-up” savings towards their 1.5 percent savings goal, and can be used to add boiler control adjustment measure(s) to the Technical Reference Manual (TRM). 

This project is supported by a grant from the Minnesota Department of Commerce, Division of Energy Resources through the Conservation Applied Research and Development (CARD) program, which is funded by Minnesota ratepayers.

Project Info



  • Develop and test a commercial boiler controls tune-up procedure
  • Measure savings from this procedure in about 20 buildings.

Development of a boiler control tune-up protocol, measurement of the savings of control tune-ups in 20 buildings, and examination of project state-wide potential savings.

Utility Implementation
The expanded scope service is expected to add to the potential (per building) savings of boiler tune-up programs. The control tune-ups may also provide participation amongst buildings that have not been appropriate for traditional boiler tune-ups.

Non-Energy Impacts
Alleviation of short-cycling problems in many boiler plants.

CEE Contact
Russ Landry, P.E.