Matching your heating and refrigeration loads can save big money. Commercial Fridges and Hot Water Systems

Frequently we get calls from restaurant and bar owners to repair their hot water or refrigeration equipment. Usually these repairs are fairly inexpensive but we are shocked by all of the wasted energy that goes into these systems. Perhaps it just takes a step back to think about the refrigeration process to see how this could be so helpful. Refrigeration is simply the removal of heat.  A few small changes in how the heat is removed can save big money.

What if the heat that you were taking out of the fridge or freezer was diverted into a hot water preheat station?  I don’t want to mislead people into thinking that this could eliminate all the water heating requirements, but water comes out of the ground at around 12 C (55 F) and needs to be stored at 60 C (140 F). All of this heating is done by your hot water system. Preheating your water could save you up to ½ the energy!

This system works even better on smaller fridges usually found in bars and restaurants. Typically, the fridges are left to expel the heat into the air. The traditional thinking was “this saves the heating systems from doing some work.”  This is only partly true. In winter the fridges do produce heat, unfortunately this heat is usually trapped in a small opening which makes it difficult for the heat to escape. This makes the motor work harder – using more electricity.

In the summer months, the savings are even bigger. Those same refrigerators that were helping with the heating load are now making the cooling load even bigger! The heat escaping is making the air conditioner work harder to keep the workplace comfortable. What makes this situation even worse is that the work area is warmer than the customer areas. While this isn’t a problem in kitchens, think about a bar area with multiple fridges spitting out warm air. The workers are not only in a warmer area they are more active – and who controls the heat settings?

Unfortunately, if this is done on a retro-fit basis the savings are not IMMEDIATELY as large. However, converting the equipment over time will generate big savings. Think about it – why wouldn’t you want to let your fridges and freezers heat your water – the utilities just might be  willing to help you pay for it!

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