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Carbon Trust: Reducing refrigeration energy

The Carbon Trust has released a check-list for reducing refrigeration energy consumption

The Carbon Trust provides simple, effective advice to help businesses take action to reduce carbon emissions. The simplest way to do this is to use energy more efficiently, which we explain in our publication Refrigeration Systems

Energy saving Checklist

1 Inspect        

Get into the habit of inspecting systems regularly – early warning signs allow you to take action before any problem gets worse. Look for ice build-up on evaporators, debris on condensers, broken fans, and snow and ice in cold stores. Bubbles in sight glasses can indicate a refrigerant leak. Marking pressure gauges for summer and winter can help identify when compressors are working too hard. Unusual noises could suggest damaged fans, out of balance motors, worn bearings or short-cycling compressors.

2 Maintain

Set up a maintenance contract with an experienced contractor to make sure that plant is safe, efficient and reliable. This will also reduce the cost of breakdowns and emergency service calls.

3 Control

Get to know the system controls. Most refrigeration systems are automatic, with controls that switch the compressors and fans on and off. Basic controls work off a thermostat, while more advanced controls monitor factors such as the cooling load, the build-up of ice, and weather conditions. For freezer rooms and cabinets, electric heaters are normally used to stop surfaces such as hand rails from getting too cold, and also to prevent condensation on glass. These heaters can often be pulsed on and off, or switched off altogether when the store is closed.

4 Reduce the load

Only refrigerate the product, space or process where you really need to. Many applications (such as factory production areas) only require refrigeration at certain times. Where refrigeration is required, keep it at the highest possible temperature. Turning up the thermostat will reduce the load on the refrigeration system and cut energy costs.

5 Cut your losses

Refrigeration is expensive. Contain it as much as possible. Keep cold room doors closed, and keep seals in good repair. Use strip curtains or air-locks, and make sure that insulated rooms are properly air tight. Invest in sound pipe insulation. Insulation that is badly applied and maintained adds to energy costs, through lost cooling capacity and reduced compressor efficiency.

6 Better housekeeping

Don’t overstock cabinets. Keep air grilles clear. Close blinds and night covers. Close doors and maintain door seals.

7 Good design

If investing in a new refrigeration system, ask the contractors for a high efficiency option. Weigh up the extra capital cost and lower running cost of the energy saving options against the poor efficiency of the lowest capital cost system.


Top 12 areas where you can significantly cut energy use.

1 Display cabinets

2 Cold rooms

3 Compressors

4 Condensers

5 Evaporators

6 Heat recovery

7 Reducing refrigerant leaks

8 Free cooling

9 Chillers

10 Pipe insulation

11 Maintenance

12 Monitoring

Each area is explained in full in the full guide at www.carbontrust.co.uk/expertinenergy

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