Energy Efficiency for Grocery and Convenience Stores

While the food-sales industry shares many of the energy-related issues seen in other business sectors, such as lighting, heating and cooling, appliances, etc., what sets it apart is its high dependence on refrigeration. So, we've dedicated this page to ways to improve the energy efficiency of commercial refrigeration systems.

To save energy while using larger equipment, such as HVAC, heat pumps, motors, boilers, furnaces, and turbines, view ENERGY STAR's equipment tech sheet, and consider buying ENERGY STAR labeled products.

Whether you operate a supermarket, grocery store or convenience store, you know that refrigeration uses a lot of energy and that translates into high energy bills. That's why it's important to maintain your refrigeration systems and to learn about the multitude of energy efficiency options available to you in today's more energy efficient market.

Energy efficiency can be applied to all types of refrigeration equipment such as reach-in, walk-in, and under the counter refrigerators/freezers, as well as a multitude of food and drink storage and display cases. The following tips are designed to help your business improve the efficiency of its refrigeration, thereby reducing operating costs, saving energy, and preventing pollution.

To measure and compare your actual energy use with that of similar grocery stores nationwide, you can use the ENERGY STAR benchmarking tool which rates your store on a scale of 1-100. Whether you are responsible for one store or 100, periodic energy benchmarking is a critical step in energy management.

Refrigeration Tips

To help you save money and energy on your refrigeration needs, here are some no-cost refrigeration tips:

Keep doors shut - Repeated fluctuations in temperature will damage food quality and will cost money.

Check temperature settings - If settings are lower than necessary, chances are you are wasting energy. The most common recommended settings are between -14 degrees and -8 degrees Fahrenheit for freezers and between 35 degrees and 38 degrees Fahrenheit for refrigerators.

Clean cooling coils - Dirt accumulation impairs proper heat transfer and lowers the efficiency and capacity of refrigerators.

Check door seals - Tight seals and properly closing doors prevent warm air from entering the unit, which reduces cooling energy and prevents frost buildup. Use this rule of thumb: If you can easily slide a dollar bill into the seal, have the seal adjusted.

Maintain equipment - Perform any scheduled maintenance on the units and keep evaporator coils clean and free of ice build-up.

Do your homework - See how other grocery stores, convenience stores and restaurants have saved energy on their refrigeration systems.

Additional Resources

Learn more about the following technologies and practices that are applicable in grocery/convenience store facilities.

For more information on energy efficiency opportunities, try these online resources:

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