This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.

October 01, 2003

Study Finds Big Potential for Saving Energy in Supermarkets

A collaboration of five countries in the International Energy Agency (IEA) has yielded a study that finds significant potential for energy savings in supermarket refrigeration systems. The study, released in September by DOE's Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), was intended to examine ways to reduce the global warming impact of supermarket refrigeration systems, based on the concern that refrigerant leakage would be a major contributor to global warming. And indeed, advanced systems would cut the global warming impact of supermarket refrigeration by about 60 percent, mostly due to reduced emissions of refrigerants. But the study also found that supermarkets could achieve additional global warming benefits by recovering the waste heat from their refrigeration systems. According to the study, most stores could provide about 40 percent of their space heating and water heating needs using this waste heat. The study was performed as part of a series of efforts under the IEA Heat Pump Program; the supermarket refrigeration efforts are called "Annex 26." See the report on the ORNL Annex 26 Web page.

According to the Consortium for Energy Efficiency (CEE), a nonprofit corporation, large energy savings can also be achieved in reach-in refrigerators and freezers—chiefly used in restaurants—and commercial icemakers, which are used in hospitals, hotels, and restaurants. Up to 50 percent of the energy used by reach-in refrigerators and freezers could be saved, says CEE, as well as 15 to 20 percent of the energy used by commercial icemakers. See the CEE press release.