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Save money by turning off the fridges

Published: 17. February 2016

Beverage coolers consume significant amounts of energy – energy that costs money. A simple timer can save thousands.

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“We have found that one saves about 1000-1600 kWh a year per fridge and that this does not affect product quality or your sales,” says energy and climate adviser Mona Tjernström.

In most shops cooled beverages are stored in open or closed fridges. These refrigerators usually run around the clock. Often they are part of specific sales concepts. For example, you get a free fridge if you provide a beverage (such as Coca-Cola). The question is whether you really need to cool drinks around the clock.

Save up till 1600 kWh per fridge

A study has been made where the refrigerators have been turned off at night and the temperature has been measured. When the coolers were turned off for 10 hours the temperature rose by about 7 ° C, which meant 12 ° C in a refrigerator equipped with doors and 17 ° C in a fridge with no door. In the morning, the drinks were still cold. There was no difference in sales volumes at different temperatures.
The study revealed savings of 1000 kWh per year for fridges with doors and 1600 kWh per year for those without doors. As a bonus, the heat emissions from the fridges is reduced during the night which means that the need for cooling the premises decreases.

Swedish national project

The Swedish Energy Agency has launched a national project to encourage more stores to turn off their beverage coolers at night. The 25 municipalities participating in the project are expected to reduce energy consumption by 200,000 kWh per year.

“The idea is that the refrigerators should be turned off during the time the store is closed, by a margin of 30 minutes before and after the store’s opening hours,” says energy and climate adviser Mona Tjernström.

Low investment & quick payback

Coop Forum Karlshamn, who is participating in the project, has nine freestanding refrigerators for chilled drinks in the beverage department. Some of them have doors and some of them are open. All coolers were running 24 hours a day. Simple timers were brought in to turn the refrigerators off at night and energy meters were installed to monitor changes in electricity consumption.

“We save more than € 1200 a year by turning off the coolers at night and the repayment period is less than a week,”says retailer Conny Berg.
He also tells that the staff can not see any difference in the sales of the various products due to the temperature difference.

“Customers do not seem to reflect on whether the product is 5 ° C or 12 ° C when they buy the drink. Both temperature levels give the customer the feeling that they buy a chilled product.”

The project shows how easily one can make big savings at low cost.

“We hope that department stores and chains will start doing this as well. The investment is in principle paid back directly,” says Mona Tjernström.

The project is led by the Swedish Energy Agency and the Energy Office South-East Region.