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Self-contained, Commercial Refrigerators and Freezers

How Much Will I Save?

When shopping for a new self-contained, commercial refrigerator or freezer, check how much electricity the manufacturer declares it uses daily. With this, calculate how much it costs, annually, to run the appliance. Compare this cost with that of other models. Considering that these products last about 10 years, to run a refrigerator or freezer may cost more than to buy it. So, for refurbished models, but also for new models, look at the operating cost.

Buying a new unit

Table 3 shows how much you can save a year by choosing a model complying with, or surpassing, upcoming minimum-efficiency regulations. These figures apply to 24, 48 and 72 cu ft models for 1-, 2- and 3-door models. To find out how much energy you will save a year, subtract how much energy the new model will use from how much your old model uses.

Table 3: Estimated Annual Use, Cost and Savings for Replacing Commercial Refrigerators and Freezers, Based on Proposed Regulated Levels of Efficiency
Appliance Type* Average Use of Current Models (kWh/year) Estimated Use Under Proposed Canadian Regulations ( kWh/year ) Estimated Average Annual Saving
Jan 1-07 Jan 1-08 Jan 1-07 levels Jan 1-08 levels
Refrigerators
1-door 2,300 2,635 2,102 -$34 $20
2-door 4,300 3,730 3,197 $57 $110
3-door or more 6,300 4,825 4,292 $148 $201
Freezers
1-door 5,200 4,519 4,319 $68 $88
2-door 9,800 8,006 7,805 $179 $200
3-door or more 14,400 11,492 11,292 $291 $311
Beverage merchandisers
1-door 3,900 3,616 3,248 $28 $65
2-door 7,600 5,123 4,754 $248 $285
3-door or more 11,200 6,630 6,261 $457 $494
* Assuming 24, 48 and 72 cu ft for 1, 2 and 3 door models

Refrigerators and freezers last about ten years. The cost of energy is a very significant portion of the total owning and operating cost of the appliance. Note that the proposed Canadian Regulation addresses the minimum efficiency (or maximum allowable consumption) that new units must comply with. However, there are a number of units available that consume considerably less energy than the limits shown on Table 3, and the operating cost can be lower. In fact, there are models that consume 25 to 40 percent less energy, yielding correspondingly higher savings than indicated on Table 3.

Buying a Second Hand or Refurbished Unit

In Canada, there is a substantial market for used commercial refrigerators and freezers. If you are considering a used or refurbished commercial refrigerator or freezer, check operating cost as well as the purchase cost. These four examples show how much cheaper it is to run a new, efficient refrigerator or freezer over a used or refurbished model of average efficiency. We assume that the refurbished model costs half of what a new energy-efficient model of the same size costs. The examples include a 3-door refrigerator, a single door refrigerator, a 2-door freezer and a single glass-door refrigerator. The new models A, B, C and D are priced from the market and Table 4 shows the annual energy use for these models. We assumed using the refurbished units to be at the "average level" of Canadian units used. We assumed the electricity cost at 10 cents per kWh. The lifetime cost is the sum of the purchase price and the present value of the operating cost over ten years (assuming a 3.5 percent discount rate).

Choose efficient commercial refrigerator models from a list of energy efficient appliances approved in California, available from on the Web.

The prices for the new units are in Canadian dollars. Table 4 shows how much you can save by buying a new commercial refrigerator or freezer, rather than a refurbished one.

Table 4: Calculation of Lifetime Cost for Four Different Appliances
Model Description Volume ( cu ft ) Annual Energy Consumption ( kWh ) Operating Cost / Year ( $ ) Operating Cost / 10 years* ( $ ) Purchase Price ( $ ) Lifetime Cost ( $ )
Refurbished 3-door refrigerator 72 6,300 $630 $5,204 $1,650 $6,854
Model A – new 3-door refrigerator 72 2,898 $290 $2,461 $3,109 $5,570
Refurbished 1-door refrigerator 24 2,300 $230 $1,900 $850 $2,750
Model B – new 1-door refrigerator 24 1,000 $100 $826 $1,700 $2,526
Refurbished 2-door freezer 48 9,800 $980 $8,095 $1,600 $9,695
Model C – new 2-door freezer 48 6,528 $653 $5,392 $3,270 $8,662
Refurbished 1-glass door refrigerator 24 3,900 $390 $3,221 $900 $4,121
Model D – new 1-glass door refrigerator 24 2,058 $206 $1,700 $1,800 $3,500
*Present value, assuming a discount rate of 3.5 percent

These examples show how important running costs are. To save the buyer operation costs, manufacturers now put energy efficiency features into their new models. For example, Table 5 shows some of the energy efficient features in new appliances, their estimated cost, how this lowers energy use and the payback period for each feature and for combinations of features.

Table 5: Economic Analysis of Energy Efficiency Measures for Refrigerators
Technology Option End-User Cost Premium ( $ ) Load Reduction ( W ) Energy Reduction ( kWh/yr ) Energy Reduction ( % ) Simple Payback Period ( Years )
Thicker insulation $100 11 97 2.2% 10.3
ECM evaporator fan motor $48 34 300 5.1% 1.6
ECM condenser fan motor $22 25 142 3.3% 1.5
High- efficiency compressor $16 88 501 12% 0.3
ECM compressor motor $100 64 367 8% 2.7
Variable speed compressor $150 64 688 16% 2.2
Hot gas anti-sweat $93 99 869 20% 1.1
High-efficiency fan blades $3 24 171 4.0% 0.2
Combination 2,3,4,7 $179 268 1792 44% 1.0

Notes:

  • Baseline energy use assumed: 4321 kWh/year.
  • Thicker insulation requires making new dies for the cabinet as well as new tooling for most fittings. This feature costs much and has a very long payback period.
  • "ECM" means more efficient electronically-commutated motors – brushless DC motors.
  • Hot gas anti-sweat and condensate evaporation replace energy consuming electric resistance heating for the same task.
  • Electric Rate assumed: $0.10/ kWh.