Refrigeration systems consume large amounts of electricity and depending on the industry can be responsible for up to 85% of a business’s total energy consumption. For businesses with considerable cooling requirements this accounts for a significant portion of business running costs, as shown in the table below. 

Typical refrigeration-related electricity use Electricity used for refrigeration
Liquid milk processing  25% 
Breweries  35% 
Confectionery  40% 
Chilled ready meals  50% 
Frozen food  60% 
Cold storage  85% 

Improvements to technical elements of modern refrigeration systems have the potential to reduce energy consumption by 15%–40%. Improving simple operational practices with minimal expense can often reduce energy costs by 15% or more. Delivering the best outcome for your business requires a whole-systems approach to the design, installation, operation and maintenance of your refrigeration system.

Improving energy efficiency can deliver a range of savings, such as:

  • reduced energy, operation and maintenance costs
  • improved system reliability, safety and working environment
  • increased productivity
  • better matching of refrigeration load and equipment capacity
  • reduced resource consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.

Sustainability Victoria case studies

Melbourne based cold storage company Austco Polar reduced the energy consumption of its refrigeration processes by more than 5%, saving $116,000 per year through various energy efficiency actions. Read this and other case studies to learn what Victorian businesses across a number of sectors have done and how much they’ve saved.

Other case studies

McLaren Vintners, a South Australian large winery realised energy savings of 24% of annual consumption and 53% of vintage consumption by insulating 44 tanks.

Useful resources

Sustainability Victoria’s Energy Efficiency Best Practice Guide to industrial refrigeration is a step-by-step guide to improving energy efficiency in refrigeration. This guide will help businesses determine the limitations of their existing systems, and provides guidance to assess the best solution for their business, whether this involves improving existing systems or designing a new system.

Australian Industry Group (AiGroup) has produced a series of excellent short videos on energy efficiency and optimisation for manufacturers which provide practical advice on reducing energy use and saving money. The ‘Refrigeration’ video is available online.

The SA Wine Industry Association has produced a Winery Energy Saver toolkit which has a chapter on Refrigeration and Insulation.

NSW Office of Environmental & Heritage (OEH) produced a detailed technical report of industrial refrigeration – Energy Saver Technology Report Industrial refrigeration and Chilled Glycol and Water Application.

  • Technology 1 Variable Plant Pressure Control Page 8
  • Technology 6 Variable cols Store Temperature Page 27
  • Technology 9 Plant design Review Page 35

Apple and Pear Australia Limited produced a short info sheet: Watts In Your Business-Fact Sheet 1: Refrigeration in packing sheds.

The Master Grocers Association has produced information and fact sheets for grocers and supermarkets on energy efficiency including refrigeration