Energy Efficiency Guide


The move over recent years towards energy efficiency, the extreme hot ambient temperatures have made energy efficient kitchen equipment even more important to caterers. This is particularly so in the case of refrigeration, as the refrigerator is one of the few pieces of equipment in the kitchen that uses energy 24/7, 365 days a year. Now, as businesses experience increased costs for their gas and electricity, with prices rising by more than 40% in 2005-06, the search for energy-saving equipment has stepped up a gear.


Minimizing energy usage is a must, but fortunately there are many ways that you can make savings on your fuel bills:
Using your fridge: Where is the fridge located? Install your unit in the coolest part of your kitchen. Avoid placing the refrigerator near cooking equipment or in direct sunlight. If you do, you’re making the refrigerator’s compressor work harder than necessary to keep temperature. Allow adequate space above, behind and on the sides for free air circulation - at least 50 mm at the sides and 200 mm at the top and back but the more the better. Don’t cover your refrigerator with any material that will prevent air flowing around the cabinet sides.

Minimize door openings to prevent warm air entering the refrigerator (again causing your unit to work harder than necessary), don’t open your refrigerator door needlessly. Decide what you want to get out before you open it and remove several items at once.

Buy the right size: If you are thinking of getting a second refrigerator, consider replacing your existing refrigerator with a larger unit instead. It’s generally less costly to operate one big refrigerator than two smaller ones. That spare fridge could cost you an extra Rs. 7000 to Rs. 15000 a year in electricity. If however your refrigerator sees regular periods of low usage due to the nature of your business, it may be more economical to use two smaller fridges. This way, during a quiet period, you can switch off one fridge and keep the other well stocked. Running two half-full refrigerators will use more energy than one well-stocked one.

It is of utmost importance that the kitchen is designed around the refrigeration maintaining their standard sizes. This is because standard size refrigerators are pre-engineered with just the right size/capacity condensing unit that comply with all the necessary heat-load calculations which are made depending on the usable capacity of the refrigerated cabinet.

Cover all liquids stored in the refrigerator. Besides stopping them picking up taints, this will stop them evaporating away and causing ice and condensation build-up on the evaporator of the no frost system.


  • Buying an energy efficient fridge and/or freezer to replace your Static / inefficient one could cut carbon dioxide emissions produced by up to 228 kgs a year, as well as saving you up to 70% in energy usage.
  • Ensure that the supplier is a well-established refrigeration specialist and not just a fabricator/contractor of sheet metal equipment as refrigeration involves air flow technology and heat load calculations, not just good sheet metal fabrication.
  • Make sure the supplier’s quality controls and policies are rigorously maintained. Breakdown rates, leak tolerances, etc. should be subjected to strict controls. Ensure that the supplier can offer maintenance contracts, and preferably that they use factory-trained technicians to carry these out.
  • Choose a refrigerator size based on the needs of your kitchen - a refrigerator will use a little less energy when it is comfortably full (but not overfilled).
  • An important environmental consideration when buying a refrigerator or freezer is to check what refrigerant (coolant) it uses. The international industry standard refrigerants, R134a and R404a, (commonly known as HFCs) are Zero Ozone Depleting but do affect Global Warming.
  • Ensure that your supplier has a “Zero Leak Tolerance” policy with regard to its refrigerant. A system that loses 15% of its refrigerant charge through leakage will see a 50% drop in cooling capacity and 100% increase in energy consumption.


Choose equipment with the following features wherever possible to ensure minimal energy consumption:

  • Automatic Defrost ensures the refrigerator is always running at maximum performance, by initiating ‘Defrost’ mode to remove ice build-up. This saves on energy usage and prolongs the lifecycle of the coil.
  • Energy Efficient Fans some manufacturers have improved energy efficiency by using fewer fans and more energy efficient components in the refrigeration system itself.
  • Large Capacity Evaporator this ensures efficient cooling, preventing unnecessary energy usage in achieving temperature.
  • Doors must be equipped with good quality gaskets which can be easily replaced if torn for temperature and hence energy control.
  • Self-Closing Doors ensure that doors are not left ajar.


To maximize efficiency, you should ensure that a refrigeration engineer services your equipment regularly. How frequently a service is required will depend on site conditions. For example, a dusty hospital or bakery environment will need more regular servicing due to dust build-up on the coil, as will a fast-food outlet where the refrigerator is sited near the griddle, causing high grease build-up. Ask your service engineer how often he would recommend servicing. To obtain optimum performance this will be a minimum of once per year but could be as frequently as every 3 to 4 months.

Regular servicing can have a dramatic effect on energy consumption:

Problem Increase in Energy Usage
Partially blocked condenser 23%
15% Refrigerant leak 100%
Faulty door seal 11%
Incorrect temperature settings 6%

Failure to carry out regular checks can also result in system failure, and subsequent need to replace key components such as the compressor or condenser fan. Regular maintenance also prolongs the life of the equipment and reduces repairs, which has environmental impact and affects running costs.


You can minimize energy usage by carrying out the following in-house maintenance checks:

  • Clean the condenser coils monthly. Condenser coils allow the hot refrigerant inside their tubes to cool off. If they are covered in dust, this acts as insulation and prevents heat from escaping, making the refrigerator work harder- wasting up to 23% more energy. To clean the coils, simply unplug the unit, and carefully vacuum or brush them.
  • Door seals and gaskets: Doors must be equipped with good quality gaskets which can be easily replaced if torn for temperature and hence energy control.
  • Defrost ice build-up reduces your refrigerator’s cooling ability.
  • Ideally you should choose a refrigerator and freezer with an Automatic Defrost as this ensures that defrosting automatically takes place at the optimum time.