If your business has high cooling costs, efficient refrigeration can yield major savings.

Food retailers and meat processors use about two thirds of their electricity for refrigeration. In the wholesale food sector, that figure can be more than 85% of total energy use. But it’s possible to reduce energy used for cooling without compromising standards.

  • Improving the way staff use refrigeration and how systems are maintained can save 15% of energy used for cooling.  
  • Upgrading, replacing and rationalising equipment can save 40% of energy used for cooling.

Improving refrigeration efficiency

There are steps you can take to improve the energy efficiency of your large-scale refrigeration system. However, we recommend that you get expert advice before embarking on a major energy efficiency project.

Industrial refrigeration energy efficiency guide [PDF 643KB]

Reduce your refrigeration needs

First, review how your business uses its refrigeration. You may be cooling products or areas that don’t need it. Things to consider:

  • products and quantities that need refrigeration
  • temperatures your products need
  • opportunities for natural cooling
  • alternative products that don’t need refrigeration
  • packaging that helps efficient refrigeration.

Making your system more efficient

Control, maintenance and design are the main factors that affect a refrigeration system’s performance. It’s relatively easy to fix control and maintenance problems. But solving design problems usually means spending money.

When you review your system’s efficiency, take these steps:

  1. Review refrigeration demand - assess your cooling load. You may be able to cool separate products together. Also, look for ways to reduce heat gain, for example by using ambient cooling before refrigeration.
  2. Review insulation - poorly insulated pipes absorb heat from their surroundings, which affects cooling performance.
  3. Review coolant distribution - check that your pumping system is running as efficiently as possible.
  4. Review refrigeration plant, controls, set points and heat rejection.
  5. Optimise maintenance - a thorough maintenance routine, in line with a manufacturer’s recommendations, should identify any problems early.
  6. Measure improvement - setting a baseline lets you measure the impact of your energy efficiency project and helps with reporting and prioritising future projects.

Designing a new system

Designing a whole system is the best opportunity to build in energy efficiency. So, if you’re designing a new system:

  • review your current and estimated future cooling needs
  • give suppliers your refrigeration needs over a whole year
  • identify ways to recover heat as early as possible
  • ensure designs minimise heat gain (for example, with good insulation and automatic doors).

Funding and support for refrigeration

Industrial systems design advice

An expert review of planned changes to your industrial heating or cooling system can save on energy and costs.

 Industrial systems design advice

Industrial energy audits

Apply for funding towards the cost of an energy audit.

 Industrial energy audits

Get expert advice on refrigeration

If you want to improve the efficiency of your refrigeration system, we recommend you get advice from one of our approved programme partners.