The following article excerpt, Cooler Control, from the Convenience Store Decisions magazine, discusses ways to increase your walk-in cooler’s efficiency and decrease operating costs.
Convenience store chains can slash operating costs by as much as 10% with sound maintenance and general improvements to its refrigeration systems.
Operators looking for greater energy efficiency should cast an eye on their coolers, where centralized controls, lighting adjustments, basic ongoing maintenance and employee training can save them money.
“Coolers are typically an opportunity for improvements in maintenance and operational practices,” said Jerry Lawson, national manager for Energy Star Small Business and Congregations Network, a division of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in Washington. “With all the different types of equipment in the c-store, coolers are a key piece of the energy equation, and they are typically the most expensive to run. With the right improvements, there is an energy efficiency dollar saving opportunity.”
Where to begin? Start with the obvious.
“Keeping them clean is the biggest thing,” Lawson said. “Coolers have to breathe. Keeping those coils clean allows them to breathe; they take the air in and expel air out.”
When taking care of monthly cooler cleaning, Lawson liked to pull off the back panel and take a cloth or other type of non-steel brush to it and clean it off, then vacuum or sweep the junk up off the floor. “That’s the biggest thing to keep them running efficiently.”
Matt Lauck, director of marketing for Retail Solutions in Kennesaw, Ga., a subsidiary of Emerson Electric, said that central facility management systems can be a major tool for achieving energy efficiency in coolers. Such systems give the operator the ability to optimize energy reduction by, among other things, tracking temperatures to make sure they stay within operational norms, which obviously also has implications for food safety. “Think of it as a programmable thermostat,” he said.