Covering of Refrigeration Equipment
Various calculations show that glass lid chest freezers use up to 50 % less energy. Adding glass doors to refrigerated shelves can save up to 35 % on energy costs. One would think that retailers would be happy to invest in these covers. And in fact covered cooling zones (via lids, doors, night blinds etc.) are standard items for the retailers surveyed. By contrast, only about one half of the retailers surveyed are using covers for their normal refrigeration, and that only in a few pilot stores rather than chain-wide.
One might ask why this is so. Covering is still a sensitive topic, since it obstructs the open, sales-promoting display of the goods. Many retailers fear that covers will adversely impact the customers' inclination to purchase refrigerated or frozen goods. This fear is especially prevalent in regards to dairy products and other fast-moving consumer goods. Those responsible for energy costs at the retail companies, who are committed to increase energy efficiency, find themselves in a dilemma with the sales and marketing departments, who fear a loss in revenue.
Moreover, the retailers see the complicated use and increased difficulty in stocking the refrigeration equipment as a disadvantage for employees.
40 % of the companies surveyed by EHI have made the decision to also include covering for all normal refrigeration in any new construction or renovations. These companies have had studies conducted by polling institutes or within the framework of master's theses to determine the effect of covering. The results indicate that the companies were not able to record any revenue losses. On the contrary: The response from customers is quite positive, since the covers contain the cold, enabling the customer to comfortably remain in front of refrigeration equipment for longer periods of time, and the equipment is neater, creating the impression of an increased quality of goods.
In the view of the companies that have decided to include covering for normal refrigeration, the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages. In summary, the following advantages are named:
- No leakage of cold air
- Longer dwelling time near refrigeration equipment
- Impression of increased quality of goods
- Less disarray in the refrigeration equipment due to less movement of the goods
- More elegant appearance of the store
- Symbol of the company's environmental consciousness
The more complicated use during stocking of the refrigeration equipment is named as a disadvantage.
The comparison makes it obvious: Open refrigeration equipment is always a compromise between buying incentive and energy efficiency. Energy losses are often accepted so that customers have easy access to goods. In everyday practice it is important to find a balance between sales-promoting display, the required product-specific temperature and timely energy efficiency.
Given the increasing energy costs, the climate change and the shift in environmental consciousness among consumers, there appears to be no way around covers. It is likely also only a question of time until relevant legal regulations will be put in place. The revenue-loss argument will automatically become obsolete when all companies begin covering their refrigeration equipment. All that is needed here is a handful of bold pioneers to take the first step and lead the way.
In the case of cooling devices, retailers generally choose those that fulfil modern standards regarding the energy footprint and the type of refrigerant used. Environmentally friendly refrigeration is continuously gaining importance due to the climate change.
The retailers in Germany, Austria and Switzerland that participated in the EHI survey have chosen the following refrigerant combinations for all future new constructions and renovations:
- 43 % will be using R-744 for deep freeze and R-134a for normal refrigeration
- 31 % prefer transcritical systems, thus using R-744 for both deep freeze and normal refrigeration
- 26 % will continue to use conventional refrigerants, especially R-404a and R-134a
Here it is important to note that discounters were not included in the survey. The high percentage of natural refrigerants can also be explained by the fact that while the use of R-744 has been widespread particularly in Switzerland for several years now, it is still relatively rare in Germany.
by Ljiljana Rakita, Work Group Energy Management of EHI Retail Institute