Refrigeration equipment for businesses such as grocery stores, convenience stores, and restaurants typically account for 25% to 60% of electricity consumption. Fortunately, there have been many advances in commercial refrigeration technology - many of which are extremely cost effective with improved product quality.

Your facility's size and type, and the needs of your business may determine the type of refrigeration system used.

Central refrigeration systems consist of refrigerated spaces connected to a remote condenser. These systems have the advantage of emitting waste heat outside of the conditioned space through the condenser.

Stand-alone refrigeration systems, often called merchandisers, usually have the case, evaporator and condenser packaged in a single unit, similar to your home refrigerator. These stand-alone units are commonly used in smaller facilities where a central refrigeration system is not justified.

There are many other efficiency opportunities in refrigeration. When working with a contractor or service provider, ask them to review and specify additional efficiency measures, such as:

  • ENERGY STAR qualified commercial solid door refrigerators and freezers

  • Premium insulation packages where available for walk-in coolers.

  • National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) premium motors and/or variable speed drives on evaporator and condenser fans.

  • Oversized condensers to supercool refrigerant.

  • Humidistat controlled anti-sweat heaters, instead of timers, for large display systems.

  • Evaporative condensers.

  • Defrost controls, instead of timers, that measure frost accumulation and humidity.

  • Floating head pressure systems and/or liquid pressure amplifier pumps.

  • Efficient T8, T5, or compact fluorescent lighting with electronic ballasts.

  • Glass door cases (instead of open door cases).

  • Heat recovery from compressors and condensers to provide hot water.

  • Automatic door closers (with appropriate interior safety releases).

To learn more about refrigeration energy efficiency visit:

Maintenance Tips

  • Engage a qualified heating, cooling, and ventilation (HVAC) contractor in a maintenance contract with seasonal tune-ups. During these tune-ups, a technician should check combustion efficiency, refrigerant level, and belt tension as applicable.

  • Properly load the unit. Overloaded refrigeration units result in disrupted airflow while under loaded units are using more energy than needed.

  • Clean cooling coils regularly to ensure proper airflow and heat transfer.

  • Whenever considering any modification to an existing refrigeration system that involves changing refrigerants, consult your refrigeration professional.

To learn more about refrigerants visit EPA: Stationary Air Conditioning.

For information on stand alone commercial solid and glass door refrigerators and freezers please visit the Commercial Food Service Equipment page.

In addition, the Office Equipment and Appliances page has information on residential stand alone refrigerators and freezers.


Produced in partnership with the U.S. Small Business Administration, Business Gateway and ENERGY STAR®