Grocery and convenience stores

photograph of grocer with produceWhile the food-sales industry shares many of the energy-related issues seen in other business sectors, such as lighting, heating and cooling, appliances, etc., what sets it apart is its high dependence on refrigeration. This page is dedicated to ways to improve the energy efficiency of commercial refrigeration systems.

For more information about lighting and other energy-efficient upgrades, read the ENERGY STAR for small business guide Putting Energy into Profits. To save energy while using larger equipment, such as HVAC, heat pumps, motors, boilers, furnaces, and turbines, consider buying ENERGY STAR certified products.

Whether you operate a supermarket, grocery store, or convenience store, you know that refrigeration can use almost 40 percent of the energy at your store. And that translates into high energy bills. That’s why it’s important to maintain your refrigeration systems and to learn about the multitude of energy efficiency options available to you in today’s more energy-efficient market.

Energy efficiency can be applied to all types of refrigeration equipment such as reach-in, walk-in, and under the counter refrigerators/freezers, as well as a multitude of food and drink storage and display cases. The following tips are designed to help your business improve the efficiency of its refrigeration, thereby reducing operating costs, saving energy, and preventing pollution.

To measure and compare your actual energy use with that of similar grocery stores nationwide, you can use Portfolio Manager  to get a 1 – 100 ENERGY STAR score for your building. A score of 50 is the median. So if your building scores below 50, it means it’s performing worse than 50 percent of similar buildings nationwide, while a score above 50 means it’s performing better than 50 percent of its peers. And a score of 75 or higher means it’s a top performer and may be eligible for ENERGY STAR certification.

Whether you’re responsible for one store or 100 stores, regular energy benchmarking is a critical step in energy management.

To help you save money and energy on your refrigeration needs, here are some no-cost refrigeration tips:

  • Keep doors shut—Repeated fluctuations in temperature will damage food quality and will cost money.
  • Check temperature settings—If settings are lower than necessary, chances are you’re wasting energy. The most common recommended settings are between -14° and -8° Fahrenheit for freezers and between 35° and 38° Fahrenheit for refrigerators.
  • Clean cooling coils—Dirt accumulation impairs proper heat transfer and lowers the efficiency and capacity of refrigerators.
  • Check door seals—Tight seals and properly closing doors prevent warm air from entering the unit, which reduces cooling energy and prevents frost buildup. Use this rule of thumb: If you can easily slide a dollar bill into the seal, have the seal adjusted.
  • Maintain equipment—Perform any scheduled maintenance on the units and keep evaporator coils clean and free of ice build-up.

For more information, try these online resources: