Energy efficient refrigeration

13 Ways Grocery Stores Can Meet Evolving Energy Efficiency Standards

By Peter Biermayer

Refrigeration can account for up to 40% of the energy consumption in a typical grocery store, making it a prime area for cutting costs. But new federal efficiency standards for commercial refrigeration, which were introduced in 2014 and mandated a 30% improvement in efficiency, have made the effort to reduce refrigeration costs an even more immediate issue for grocery store owners and managers.1 While the efficiency standards were introduced in 2014 as voluntarily, they will become mandatory in 2017.

Over the next 30 years, the new federal standards are expected to cut carbon pollution by more than 140 million metric tons and save businesses nearly $12 billion in energy costs. Grocery stores are set to see a large share of those savings, as they rely on commercial refrigeration more than any other retail business. Just as importantly, new grocery store refrigerators that meet the federal standards are likely to keep products fresher, longer.

13 energy-saving refrigeration suggestions for grocery stores
The new federal energy efficient refrigeration guidelines present grocery store owners and managers with numerous opportunities to reduce refrigeration costs, maintain product integrity, save on manpower and maintenance, and present their products in a more flattering light. The trick is finding ways to take advantage of these opportunities.

Here are some suggestions for grocery store owners and managers who want to meet the new federal guidelines while also saving money:

  1. Purchase ENERGY STAR-certified products. ENERGY STAR is a program designed and implemented by the Environmental Protection Agency. It evaluates and rates products on their energy efficiency. High-efficiency grocery store refrigerators and freezers that are ENERY STAR-certified are approximately 30% more efficient than standard models2.
  2. Replace existing refrigerators and freezers with high-efficiency grocery store refrigerators and freezers. As with many energy efficient refrigeration products, PG&E offers its customers several rebates and incentives for installation. A full list of the products that qualify can be found in PG&E’s Refrigeration Rebate Catalog3. It’s important to note that appliances that the U.S. Department of Energy refer to as a refrigerator or freezer is often called a display case.
  3. Install anti-sweat heater (ASH) controls. Equip display refrigerators with ASH controls that sense the relative humidity in the air around the display case and reduce the amount of power supplied to the heaters accordingly.
  4. Add auto-closers to walk-ins. Applied to the main insulated door of a walk-in cooler or freezer, auto-closers reduce energy waste by ensuring that doors are sealed tight.
  5. Effectively manage energy with evaporator fan controllers. When the compressor in a walk-in cooler or freezer cycles off, evaporator fan controllers reduce fan motor power by at least 75%, thus saving energy and money.
  6. Switch to newer, more efficient refrigeration display cases. New high-efficiency, low-temperature remote display cases are super efficient. They are especially useful for storing items like beverages and deli products that customers often select themselves, as they offer a more pleasing view of those products.
  7. Add night covers for display cases. Night covers are installed on display cases overnight to decrease cooling loads during off hours.
  8. Install light-emitting diode (LED) bulbs in display cases. LEDs perform better in cold temperatures, produce less heat output and show off products in a more flattering light, leading to less spoilage, lower utility bills and higher sales.
  9. Install motion sensors on case lighting systems. Why leave case lighting on when no one is around? Motion sensors save money and energy by cycling lights off when customers aren’t in the area.
  10. Regularly clean cooling coils. Regular cleaning of cooling coils improves heat transfer within the system, which is a key to running an energy efficient refrigeration system.
  11. Check temperature settings. Freezers should be kept between -14 and -8 degrees Fahrenheit, and refrigerators between 35 and 38 degrees Fahrenheit. Temperature settings outside those norms will likely lead to wasted energy4.
  12. Check door seal integrity and keep doors closed as much as possible. By keeping doors shut as often and as tight as possible, grocery store owners and managers can reduce energy waste in a relatively simple way that requires only a bit of employee education and training.
  13. Properly maintain equipment. Work closely with a contractor who is experienced in installing and maintaining energy efficient refrigeration equipment. Without proper equipment maintenance, energy efficient products and the benefits they bring, can be mitigated or eliminated.

By following some or all of these 13 suggestions, grocery store owners and managers can cut costs, improve operating efficiency and display their products in ways that will catch the eyes of customers. Looking to learn more? For more information about how to get started, download "The Complete Guide to Working with a Lighting or HVAC Contractor".

  1. Department of Energy
  2. Department of Energy
  3. Pacific Gas and Electric Company
  4. Department of Energy

13 Ways Grocery Stores Can Meet Evolving Energy Efficiency Standards
  • SMB Blog Author
    Peter Biermayer
    Senior Product Manager at PG&E for commercial HVAC and refrigeration. Peter has a Master's degree in Mechanical Engineering and has over thirty years of experience in the energy efficiency field, including work at a research development and testing laboratory, a national laboratory performing analysis for energy regulations, a resource efficiency manager at a military base and now at PG&E.

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