• USDA Grant Money for Rural Energy Improvements

    June 1st, 2009

    Government money is available to help your small business become more energy efficient.

    The USDA is now offering a grant and loan program to improve energy efficiency in rural areas. The REAP/RES/EEI (Rural Energy for America Program Grants/ Renewable Energy Systems/ Energy Efficiency Improvement Program) Grants Program will provide funds to architectural producers and rural small businesses to purchase and install renewable energy systems and make energy efficient improvements.

    The program is designed to assist farmers, ranchers and rural small businesses that are able to demonstrate financial need. Small businesses that are located in rural areas can also apply. Most rural projects that reduce energy use and result in savings for the agricultural producer or small business are eligible as energy efficient projects. These include projects such as retrofitting lighting or insulation, or purchasing or replacing equipment with more efficient units. One of the main requirements of the grant program is that the new equipment must be more energy efficient than the current equipment. An ‘energy audit’ will be performed comparing the energy usage of the old equipment to the new anticipated energy efficient equipment.

    Walk-in coolers and freezers qualify for this grant program. Older walk-ins are not as efficient as new units built today. Some of the recent changes in the industry include the requirement to provide higher insulation r-values and refrigeration units with EC motors, which are much more energy efficient than older units. These upgrades will prove your new equipment to be more energy efficient, which will save you money on energy costs. Read the rest of this entry »

  • A Matter of Insulation: Acquisition vs. Lifetime Savings

    May 15th, 2009

    Your cold storage equipment may be one of the most important choices you make. A significant amount of costs are associated with your walk-in. Before you purchase, make sure you consider the entire lifecycle of the walk-in instead of just the acquisition price.

    The two main elements that effect energy and cost savings while running a walk-in are the refrigeration and insulation.  To get the optimal results from your refrigeration it must be sized correctly taking in consideration the size of box, if it is a cooler or freezer, and what will be stored inside. (There are many other factors that are considered when sizing refrigeration.) Insulation is the key to energy savings because it is responsible for holding the cool temperature in the box so the refrigeration does not have to work overtime. Insulation quality is measured by R-value; the resistance to heat flow through an object. Since EISA was implemented January 1, 2009, all walk-in manufactures are required to have an R-value of R-25 for coolers and R-32 for freezers. Now that all manufacturers follow the same requirements, the performance of the insulation is what differentiates the walk-in.

    The two common types of insulation used are polyurethane and extruded polystyrene.  Each type of insulation brings with it strengths and weaknesses that must be evaluated for each individual application.

    Insulation Strength Weakness
    Extruded Polystyrene Starts with a high R-value. Smaller cell structure. Resists moisture absorption. Closed cell structure. Out gases some. Over time, R-value decreases minimally.
    Polyurethane Starts with a high R-value.  Closed cell structure. Out gases more. Over time, R-value decreases steadily. Is susceptible to moisture infiltration.

    U.S. Cooler uses both insulations. Through experience and research, U.S. Cooler believes extruded polystyrene is the best insulation for the walls, ceiling, and floors of coolers and freezers. Polyurethane is better to insulate the doors of their walk-ins. According to a study performed by the U.S. Corps of Engineers, they found that over a five year period extruded polystyrene retains 75% of its R-value while polyurethane retains 25%.¹  This is one reason why U.S. Cooler believes extruded polystyrene provides the most value and the best option for walk-in insulation.

    Polyurethane & Extruded Polystyrene walk-in insulation

    Polyurethane & Extruded Polystyrene

    Read the rest of this entry »

  • California Accepts EISA Regulations

    April 10th, 2009

    The use of energy has become a commonly discussed issue with environmental and economic concerns. Everyday a significant amount of energy is used for commercial equipment in restaurants, grocery stores, convenience stores, and warehouses. Prior to 2006, there had not been any set regulations on energy usage for commercial refrigeration.

    California was one of the first states to set energy regulations for walk-in coolers and freezers. They previously required an envelope insulation rating of R-28 for refrigerators and R-36 for freezers. California was also one of the first to require electronically commutated motors or permanent split capacitor-type motors for refrigeration. Before more states could pose their own requirements on energy consumption, the federal EISA (Energy Independence and Security Act) agreement was signed in 2007. California has fully accepted the EISA requirements, amending their previous appliance energy code.

  • Meeting 2009 EISA Walk-in Cooler & Freezer Standards

    January 13th, 2009

    The federal government’s EISA (Energy Independence & Security Act) standards went into effect Jan. 1st, 2009. This act was intended to improve energy efficiency within the refrigeration industry as well as many other industries. AHRI reports there have been some concerns since there are no enforcement mechanism or standard testing methods built into the act; non-compliant walk-in manufacturers will stand to benefit. These manufacturers will be able to beat compliant competitors on price (due to the lower input costs of their non-regulation walk-ins). Be sure that when buying a walk-in, you check to make sure they are EISA compliant.

    The AHRI (Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute) is trying to raise awareness about what this act mandates among distributors, installers, and consumers. They have created a checklist of the standards walk-in coolers & freezers are required to meet that can be found at ACHR The News. Use this checklist to ensure the walk-in unit you are about to purchase meets the EISA standards. Read the rest of this entry »