On January 1, 2012, the Department of Energy put into effect the Commercial Refrigeration Equipment Final Rule. Aimed at reducing the energy consumption of commercial refrigeration equipment, this rule is still helping to shape the future of commercial refrigeration. With skyrocketing energy prices lurking in the near future, the combination of these parameters has been driving commercial refrigeration manufacturers to design refrigeration units with the future in mind. With restaurant finances and political restrictions on the line, these manufacturers have become truly innovative in their refrigeration unit designs, ushering in a cooler side of cooling!
We’ve all felt the impact of rising energy costs, and the financial burden is only going to increase. As a highly-desirable commodity, energy is used in many aspects of restaurant operations. Commercial refrigeration can be a sinkhole for energy consumption, and refrigeration unit manufacturers have been designing their new units with this cost in mind!
Impact of the Regulations
The new standard (known as ASHRAE testing standard 1200), is what refrigeration manufacturers now use as a parameter for their designs. This regulation assumes a store is operating at a 75°F temperature with a relative humidity of 55% or lower. Research has found that controlling store temperatures and humidity is an optimal way to ensure that your refrigeration units (at least in supermarkets) are operating most efficiently. For restaurants, these conditions may not be feasible to achieve, making this point moot.
Ch- Ch- Ch- Ch- Changes!
Display Cases: Some options have been eliminated on new models in the name of energy reduction. This includes the removal of electric defrosting on medium temperature cases, door heat in frames on medium temperature cases, and high heat options on doorframes.
LED Lighting and Occupancy Sensors: Sometimes it’s the little things that count! Lighting has switched to LED (which tends to last longer and use substantially less energy), and occupancy sensors ensure that energy is only used when necessary.
High-Performance Glass Doors: Your unit’s efficiency is only as good as the containment, and there have been advances in the construction of glass doors and seals to help combat energy leaching. The better your unit maintains its temperature, the less energy it will have to use - and the more money you save!
Phaseout of Refrigerants: The phaseout of CFC refrigerants and the future phaseout of HCFC refrigerants require that equipment be redesigned and that much existing refrigeration equipment be replaced. Manufacturers are looking into a secondary refrigerant loop to use ammonia-based or flammable refrigerants in the future.
Variable-Speed Compressors: It can be argued that your compressor shares a majority of the work with your evaporator, and advanced technologies have been tinkering with variable-speed compressors to address the different usage of your unit during different times of the day. By tailoring your compressor to the work your unit needs to do at any given time, your unit consumes just the right amount of energy it needs to for the task at hand.
The American Council for Energy-Efficient Economy notes:
DOE estimates that commercial refrigerators and freezers meeting the new standards sold over thirty years will reduce U.S. electricity consumption by about 340 billion kilowatt-hours and save businesses $12 billion. The new standards will also reduce CO2 emissions by 142 million metric tons, which is equivalent to the annual emissions of 30 million cars.
DOE estimates that the new standards will save purchasers of supermarket glass-door refrigerator and freezer cases more than $500 over the lifetime of a single case.
The impact to YOU is a cost relief in your energy bill felt indirectly by your unit’s design and not necessarily by your operation of it!
E Friedman Associates