Over the years, energy conservation has been increasingly important to food stores. At first, the singular goal was to lower energy costs. Recently though, reducing greenhouse gas emissions has become another important objective. To those ends, food stores have exchanged inefficient shaded pole and PSC motors for EC motors, added night curtains to open refrigerated cases, replaced incandescent and fluorescent lamps with LEDs, converted from air-cooled condensers to evaporative, and implemented a host of other measures that have greatly reduced energy use. The resulting savings have generally exceeded expectations, and the paybacks have been rapid.
Still, the industry has been slow to adopt a number of other energy saving strategies that on the surface, would seem to make a great deal of sense. Perhaps the foremost of these is adding glass doors to open refrigerated cases, which figures to reduce the refrigeration load by upwards of 70%. That translates into energy savings of roughly the same magnitude, which is an awful lot of savings.
One must ask then, what is the hesitancy over adding glass doors to open cases? The most frequent objection has been that glass doors reduce sales since customers don’t want to have to open doors to gain access to the food. That, in turn, offsets the gains to be had from lowering energy use. Recent studies, however, have demonstrated that sales reductions are far less than previously thought, and as a result of current case technologies, the energy savings are greater. The pendulum then has swung in favor of adding glass doors.
Today’s refrigerated cases are a marked improvement over previous designs from both a merchandising and efficiency standpoint. Newer cases combine attractive, flexible display space with energy-efficient doors designed for maximum visibility. That allows supermarkets to achieve operational efficiency without compromising sales.
Current case technologies are also very flexible. Grocers can choose from different heights, depths, frames, doors and handles. There are even six-door cases available now, which means fewer electrical connections and floor drains. This translates into lower installation and maintenance costs and increased profits.
A number of new energy features have been incorporated into the current case lines. Despite the large amount of glass, which broadens the line of sight to products, energy use is minimized. That is because:
- High-tech frames prevent the glass from frosting or fogging, minimizing the need for anti-sweat heater usage.
- Better insulation maximizes efficiency and protects against condensation.
- Current frame designs provide exceptional energy-conserving performance.
As a result of these technological and merchandising improvements, today’s supermarkets can achieve maximum energy performance while positively impacting sales.