If your business relies on commercial compressors to support “round the clock” refrigeration, odds are refrigeration is one of your main operational costs. A commercial compressor is a complex device with significant energy needs. Even smaller or more efficient units represent an investment.
Consider the annual cost of refrigeration for small businesses:
- Restaurant with Full Table Service: 30¢ to 50¢ per square foot
- Fast Food Restaurant: 70¢ to $1.10 per square foot
- Small Grocery Store: 90¢ to $1.50 per square foot
- Large Grocery Store: $1.45 to $2.30 per square foot
What makes up the difference in these costs? It’s easy to imagine that the biggest factors in your refrigeration costs are your square footage and the specifications of your compressor.
These are certainly major factors. And, in the case of the compressor, they can be managed by ensuring you have the right equipment for the job. Optimizing your compressor size to the environment reduces waste, as does regular maintenance and the use of efficient parts.
However, much of the cost of refrigeration over time comes down to waste.
Inefficient display setups that require lots of reaching and restocking are major energy hogs. To save money, it is crucial to look at your floor setup with a critical eye and find ways your refrigeration can be better. Often, the answers are right in front of your eyes.
Let’s look at ten ways to reduce commercial refrigeration costs:
1. Keep Your Evaporator and Condenser Coils Clean
While there are many components that influence system efficiency, evaporator and condenser coils deserve special mention. When they get dirty, the refrigeration system loses its efficiency. Cleaning the coils takes some getting used to but does not require a service professional.
2. Have an Overall Maintenance Plan for Your Compressors
Keeping your coils clean will reduce wear on your system, but it should also be examined on an annual basis for emerging problems. There are many maintenance tasks that require a skilled refrigeration technician. Lower operating costs can recoup the money you spend on service.
3. Maintain Door Seals on Freezers, Coolers, and Refrigerated Displays
When the door is open on a display, the clock is ticking. Doors should be periodically inspected to ensure they are closing tight and have not warped. Escaping cool air is often easy to detect. Naturally, the doors should be kept closed as much as possible.
4. Retrofit Older Refrigerated Displays to Include Closures
Any type of refrigerated display accessible to the public can be retrofitted with doors, no matter its size or orientation. This is crucial in seafood and other areas where conventional displays allow customers to reach in, producing a tremendous amount of cooling waste.
5. Load Cold Items Immediately
Your personnel can go a long way toward ensuring your work environment is more efficient. Emphasize the importance of loading cold deliveries as soon as you can. If items never reach room temperature, the system doesn’t have to work too hard to cool them down.
6. Install Superior Lighting Fixtures
While there are lots of ways to improve the efficiency of the compressor itself, starting with the environment is often faster. Old-fashioned case lighting fixtures can easily be replaced with efficient T-8 fluorescent lamps with electronic ballasts or LED bulbs, which reduce compressor load.
7. Install Better Defrost Controls
The defrost cycle is one of the places where cooling can easily become inefficient. Rather than simple timer clocks, more advanced demand controls use environmental sensors to measure the frost accumulation and humidity level before making precise temperature adjustments.
8. Use Mechanical Sub-Cooling
For a cooling savings of up to 25%, mechanical sub-cooling can make your existing refrigeration equipment much more effective. Sub-cooling cools liquid refrigeration well below its saturation pressure, which increases the system’s capacity and improves its efficiency.
9. Tune Up Your Building’s HVAC System
In a retail environment, the efficiency of your HVAC system influences how your refrigeration equipment operates, too. Make sure your HVAC system is fully tuned up, including regular air filter changes, periodic full maintenance, and a modern efficient thermostat.
10. Replace Your Aging Compressors
Freezers, coolers, refrigerators, display cases, ice machines, and more all use compressor systems of their own. Be aware of the projected lifespan of these units and replace them proactively, before or soon after repair costs begin to increase.
No matter how efficient your refrigeration is right now, you can improve and save on your costs. Remember, commercial refrigeration maintenance is multidimensional: By updating processes in one area, you reduce the load across the entire system.
A good working relationship with a team of experts in commercial refrigeration is one of the best assets you can have for long-term savings on your operation. With personalized advice, you have the opportunity to make investments that will lead to lasting results for your business.