MOHNTON, Pa. -- Energy-saving devices could provide supermarkets with some much needed relief on their fuel bills, a utility consultant told SN.
Energy-saving devices that bolt on to air conditioning units, refrigerators and chillers can relieve pressure to the equipment's compressor units. "When you do that, you prolong the life of compressors so you won't have to replace them as often and lighten the load. You can reduce refrigeration costs by 30% to 40%," said Ken Wnek, vice president, business development, Utilitech here.
Giant Eagle, Pittsburgh, a Utilitech customer, installed this kind of energy-saving device. The retailer is continuing to gauge the cost effectiveness of the device, according to Jim Lampl, Giant Eagle director of conservation.
Other energy-saving techniques for supermarkets recommended by Wnek and/or tried by Giant Eagle include:
Switching from T-12 fluorescent lighting to "more efficient" T-8 fluorescent lighting with "better light and color," Lampl said.
Installing low-glare glass for stores with several windows, thereby cutting the heat load, and installing light-colored roofs, since dark roofs attract more heat.
Using demand controllers, units that measure how much electricity each store is using. "They will prevent certain pieces of equipment from coming on at the same time. It spreads energy out over the course of a day," Wnek said.
However, one technique recommended by Wnek has yet to work to Giant Eagle's satisfaction: using backup generators not only in emergency situations, but also to save on energy costs.
On hot summer days, using the backup generator for a few hours can "get electricity back into the electrical grid," electricity that supermarkets can sell back to the utility company, said Wnek.
"You're actually smoothing out your electricity usage pattern over the course of a day," Wnek said.
However, when Giant Eagle, tested backup generators at some of its stores during peak electricity hours, the chain found the equipment was not very cost-effective.
The spiraling cost of fuel to run the generators cuts into the savings, according to Lampl. Also, many stores in the chain do not own their own generators, but only rent them during power outages, he said.