Reducing Energy Consumption in Grocery Refrigeration

As industries implement more sustainable operations and technologies, it’s time for grocers to develop strategic sustainability plans to cut back on carbon emissions. A McKinsey & Company report on Grocers’ Sustainability Opportunity in Transforming the Food System claims the food system is responsible for 34 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. While grocers can’t control all the sources of waste across the entire supply chain, they are looking for ways to decarbonize their operations. Developing strategies to decrease carbon emissions is vital for the environment, but it will also help grocers reduce utility expenditures and address shrinking margins, improving profitability.

To operate more sustainably, grocery stores and supermarket retailers can take steps to reduce their environmental impact and promote energy efficiency:

  • Energy-efficient equipment: Upgrade to energy-efficient refrigeration systems, HVAC units, lighting fixtures, and other equipment. Installing LED lighting can significantly reduce energy consumption. Prioritize appliances and equipment with ENERGY STAR-certifications.
  • Renewable energy sources: Incorporate renewable energy sources such as solar panels or wind turbines to generate clean electricity. Renewables can help offset energy consumption and reduce dependence on fossil fuels.
  • Efficient store design: Optimize the store layout to reduce energy use. Position refrigeration units away from direct sunlight and heat sources. Strategically place windows and skylights to maximize natural light and reduce the need for artificial lighting during the day.
  • Efficient refrigeration and HVAC systems: Implement advanced refrigeration and HVAC control systems to optimize temperature settings, reduce energy waste, and improve efficiency. Perform routine maintenance and equipment tune-ups for optimal performance.
  • Waste management and recycling: Implement comprehensive waste management practices, including proper recycling and waste segregation. Set up recycling stations for customers and provide clear signage to encourage participation. Establish partnerships with local recycling facilities and composting services to divert organic waste.
  • Sustainable packaging and sourcing: Prioritize sustainable packaging materials, such as recyclable, compostable, or biodegradable options. Encourage suppliers to reduce excessive packaging and opt for eco-friendly alternatives. Source products locally or regionally to reduce carbon emissions associated with transportation.
  • Water conservation: Install water-efficient fixtures such as low-flow faucets, toilets, and irrigation systems. Regularly check for leaks and repair them promptly. Consider water recycling systems for tasks like irrigation or cleaning.
  • Sustainable sourcing and partnerships: Collaborate with suppliers who adhere to sustainable and ethical practices, such as fair trade, organic farming, or responsible fishing. Support local farmers and producers to reduce the carbon footprint associated with long-distance transportation.
  • Education and awareness: Educate employees and customers about sustainability initiatives and encourage their participation. Provide training on energy-saving practices, waste reduction, and recycling. Promote sustainable products and initiatives through signage, newsletters, and social media platforms.

Energy Efficient Refrigerated Display Cases are a Win-Win

The biggest opportunity for energy efficiency is the reduction of energy consumed by refrigeration and lighting, the biggest drivers of energy consumption, accounting for 50% of total energy use in the average supermarket. An ENERGY STAR report states that the average grocery store spends $200,000+ per year in energy costs, mostly in coolers, freezers, and lighting. Retail grocery store owners looking to improve financial performance while enacting sustainability measures are investing in energy-efficient refrigerated display cases, walk-ins, coolers, and freezers.

According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory of the US Department of Energy, refrigerated display cases are energy-intense critical equipment that could be leveraged for demand reduction. Shifting to high-efficiency display cases is essential to reducing energy demand. Manufacturers of refrigerated display cases are challenged to design more energy-efficient equipment.

One of the most energy draining functions of a refrigerated case is the removal of condensate through electric evaporation. The simple process of using an electric heating element to boil and evaporate the condensate liquid is not the most energy efficient removal strategy. Annual costs can run into thousands of dollars depending on the size of the heating element and the amount of condensate produced. While some manufacturers may view evaporative trays as a way to eliminate the need for drainage and reduce condensation issues, modern condensate pumps with smart technologies solve these problems more efficiently.

A 1KW evaporator tray has a typical evaporation rate of only 8 gallons/day. The cost of running a tray of this size is estimated at $4.53/day or $1,653/year. Based on the same calculations removing 20 gal/day using a 3KW evaporator tray can cost nearly $5,000 a year. In comparison to a smart condensate pump removing 8 gal/day at only 50 cents a day, a staggering 90% reduction in energy costs is realized compared to a 1KW evaporator tray.

Using evaporation methods can come with hidden costs. If the heat source sits below the refrigeration cabinet, keeping the cabinet temperature low could be expensive. Furthermore, the evaporated liquid can result in increased humidity, leading to higher AC running costs. Grocery and supermarket retailers should not overlook these potential expenses when using evaporation to remove condensate.

Energy-Efficient Condensate Removal

Smart condensate pumps built with AI technology are the answer to energy-efficient condensate removal, giving refrigerated display case manufacturers the technology needed to design energy-efficient equipment and grocers the ability to reduce energy consumption. Hartell, a US-based manufacturer of high-quality condensate pumps for over 60 years, now offers a slim “Ultra Low Profile” smart condensate pump designed to save thousands of dollars in energy and maintenance costs associated with efficient operation of refrigeration display cases. With a maximum height of only 2.5”, refrigerated display case manufacturers can easily integrate it into their designs while refrigeration repair technicians can retrofit it into existing units. The pump’s slim design and ease of maintenance, thanks to proactive alerts and self-diagnostics, increase safety, decrease hazards, and prevent water damage and downtime.

AI Boosts Safety, Saves Maintenance Costs

Hartell’s self-learning, self-monitoring condensate pumps utilize Proactive AI Technology, predictive analytics, diagnostics, and a proactive alarm system to prevent water damage or shutdown of refrigerated display cases.

Easy-to-use, self-monitoring technologies alleviate maintenance teams’ time and resource constraints, and this is especially important in the grocery environment where occupant safety and food safety are paramount. Hartell's ultra-slim profile condensate pump comes with state-of-the-art proactive alarm technology that uses AI to learn the installation environment and monitor pump performance. Six independent alarms and a built-in maintenance monitor ensure a long working life and prevent liquid spillage and potential slip and fall incidents. The system comes with an audible-visual indicator for instant fault diagnosis and a fail-to-safe BMS interface as standard, with an optional remote LED indicator that can be installed on the refrigeration equipment to provide instant diagnostics to the site/maintenance manager.


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Manufacturers of refrigerated display cases can play a big role by designing energy-friendly equipment by integrating new technologies. Grocers working toward energy efficiency and cost savings can replace outdated, energy-hungry condensation removal components and save up to 90% in energy costs.

Hartell’s ultra low-profile condensate pumps are a smart investment for businesses looking to meet sustainability goals, reduce energy costs, increase safety, and maintain optimal refrigerated display case equipment performance.

Contact Hartell today to make your refrigeration system safer and less costly.