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Custom Energy Efficiency: Supermarkets

Did you know supermarkets have a dark side? And it’s not just the impulse-buy section at the checkout where you pass innocently by and somehow leave the store with a tabloid comparing bodies of celebrities you’ve never heard of, another “green” shopping bag (but this one matches my shoes!) and a 16th pack of gum that you will forget to use.

The real dark side of supermarkets is in the back of the store, where customers never get to venture. This is where an astronomical amount of energy gets eaten up in the day to day operation of the store.

Electricity is poured into the supermarket and used up by:

  • Refrigeration… 30% - 60%
  • Lighting… uses 15% – 25% of total electricity
  • Air conditioning, heating (HVAC) & appliances use up the rest

Fortunately, food retail is one area where the industry has taken an aggressive approach to reducing electrical consumption and made energy efficiency a priority. Let’s take a look at the three high energy usage areas and see how supermarkets are making improvements.

iStock 000013620722Small-milk-shoppingRefrigeration

This is Smartcool’s wheelhouse. Refrigeration is the single largest consumer of electricity for food retailers, so we have made it our business to come up with the best possible energy efficiency solutions for our customers in this sector.

Here’s what a Smartcool supermarket refrigeration project typically involves:

  • Installation of Smartcool’s ESM… saves an average 15% through optimization of the compressors in the refrigeration racks. Where refrigeration uses 40% of total store electricity, this translates to a 4% reduction in overall electricity usage- giving the supermarket substantial energy and cost savings.
  • Anti-sweat heater control… switching from a static control system to one which intelligently cycles the heater based on a calculated dew point, can save about 40% of anti-sweat heater energy usage. This reduces overall store electricity consumption by 1%.
  • Condenser control… installing a dedicated controller to adaptively manage the condenser maintains the lowest possible discharge pressure relative to ambient temperature. This saves 25% energy on the condenser operation, which cuts total store energy usage by about 2%.

Smartcool provides project management services to supermarkets, to ensure the entire refrigeration system is made as energy efficient as possible through these and a number of other measures.

Lighting

Lighting may not seem quite as critically important to a supermarket’s success as refrigeration is, but in fact it plays a major role in attracting customers into the store and literally displaying the store’s products in the best possible light. Here are just a few options for reducing the energy consumption of a supermarket’s lighting system:

  • Daylighting… maximizing the amount of lighting provided by the sun, via skylights and other measures, can cut lighting electricity usage by 25%. This can come at a cost if the building envelope is affected (meaning that heating/cooling energy use may go up). Daylighting can be a great solution for new supermarkets where it can be built into the design, but is challenging to implement in existing buildings.
  • Bulb upgrades… most stores tend to use T-12 or T-8 fluorescent light bulbs, and can quite easily upgrade to the more energy efficient T-5 bulbs. Alternatively stores can switch to an even more efficient LED system, particularly for in-cabinet lighting.

HVAC

Finally, a few options for reducing the energy consumption of a supermarket’s heating and cooling systems:

  • Installation of Smartcool’s ESM or ECO3… depending on the size of a store’s air conditioning system, Smartcool can install its ESM or ECO3 and save between 15% and 20% kWh on the system compressors.
  • Air curtains… supermarkets tend to leave their front doors wide open- making it a very expensive and energy intensive proposition to keep the store either warmer or cooler than the outdoors. New technology is on the market that creates a concentrated air flow curtain- using just a small amount of energy- that will effectively separate the indoors from the outdoors without actually having a door closed. This can save a huge amount of energy that would otherwise be literally flying out the door.

Looking for additional information on energy efficiency measures for supermarkets? Contact Smartcool to improve refrigeration or HVAC efficiency… we are already working with Sainsbury’s, Tesco and other leading food retailers around the world to make their stores more energy efficient.

Extra reading

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