Efficient refrigeration

Saving energy through efficient refrigeration
Most business premises have some form of refrigeration, ranging from a fridge in an office for keeping lunch cool to rows of freezers for frozen food.  Refrigeration can account for up to 70% of electricity consumption for a small retailer, so it's worthwhile exploring ways to improve efficiency.

Maintaining units

- If you don't already have one, put together a maintenance plan for your refrigeration units that can be carried out by staff. It's important to ensure that compressors, pipework, condensors and evaporators are regularly checked by a qualified
refrigeration engineer.

- Check that the coils on back of units aren't dusty and that there's plenty of room for ventilation behind.

- Leaks of refrigerant can significantly reduce efficiency and they are most common around seals, joints and valves. Also, many of the refrigerants in common use are powerful greenhouse gases, thousands of times more damaging than carbon dioxide. Remember that it is illegal to knowingly vent refrigerants.

Reducing energy waste

- Fridges and freezers with doors are far more energy efficient than open units and a faulty door seal can result in significant losses.

- Retrofit nightblinds - retractable covers that are pulled over units when the shop is closed. Versions of nightblinds are available that can be fitted with someone with basic DIY skills.

- Think about the temperature that you run your refrigeration at, just a 1 degree increase can have noticeable savings. If you just have a fridge for drinks, why not use a timer so that it is only on during opening hours. That could halve your consumption straight away!

What to consider when replacing old units

- If you need to replace an old unit, try to buy the most efficient available - it should work out cheaper over it's lifetime.

- Choose units with curtains, energy-efficient lighting and defrost settings.

- For businesses with very high refrigeration use, it would be worth googling some of the following terms: "adiabatic cooling", "heat recovery" and "liquid pressure amplifcation".

More information on refrigeration is available on The Carbon Trust website (http://www.carbontrust.co.uk/cut-carbon-reduce-costs/products-services/technology-advice/pages/refrigeration-introduction.aspx).