On this page
Every business uses a fridge. Even if it’s just a small one for milk and lunches.
No matter how big or small your system is, there are ways you can reduce the amount of energy used to run it.
Upgrading and maintaining your refrigeration system can:
The figures on this page come from our Boosting Business Productivity program. We worked with more than 300 businesses to explore their energy use and minimise their energy cost.
Install an electricity meter to your refrigeration system to track and monitor use. The data can be analysed to identify opportunities to save energy. If you need a hand analysing the data, hire a refrigerant technician or refrigeration consultant.
Every business is different. The best way to get a clear idea of what’s using the most energy in your business is by getting an energy audit. An energy auditor can review your energy bills and the way your business operates, to identify where you’re losing energy and what you can do about it.
Find an energy auditor near you.
It’s always good to seek advice and knowledge from similar businesses and industry groups.
Meet David. After upgrading processes and equipment at his dessert-making business, he saw significant energy savings.
Read David’s story.
We’ve broken down our tips for reducing refrigeration costs by small and medium-to-large businesses.
Old refrigeration systems are less energy efficient. They also use refrigerants that are being phased out. If your system is over 10 years old, it’s time for an upgrade.
Replace the system if:
When upgrading, look for the energy star rating.
Set your fridge at the food safety standards of below 5°C, and freezers between -15°C and -18°C.
For every degree cooler, you’ll increase your running costs by 2–4%.
If you’re not sure what the right temperature levels are for your business, ask a refrigeration specialist.
Regular maintenance makes sure your fridge is working efficiently.
Another way to maintain your refrigeration is to defrost your freezers when more than 5mm of ice builds up. This acts as an insulator leading to increased running costs. Newer freezers tend to have in built defrosting cycles.
Lights in fridges and cool rooms not only light the space, but also produce heat. This heat needs to be cooled down, causing the system to work harder.
LED lighting is much more efficient than fluorescent and halogen lighting, as it doesn’t heat up as much. LED lights also last a lot longer, reducing maintenance costs.
Make sure you switch the lights off when they’re not needed. Timers and operational controls are an easy way to take the effort out of this for you.
When the refrigeration system is full, it doesn’t need to work as hard to cool down the space.
If you have multiple fridges that aren’t all full. Fill one and switch the other off to save money.
This goes without saying, but when you leave a fridge or cool room door open, you lose cool air. The system then needs to work harder to cool the space down again.
Add a timed alarm to your system to make sure the door is never left open.
If you have an open display case, you could be losing up to 75% of energy. Add a glass door to your cabinet to save that wasted energy.
A loading and unloading policy will make sure you efficiently handle your product.
For more information about how your refrigeration system works, watch our refrigeration video series.
The Australian Institute of Refrigeration, Air Conditioning and Heating (AIRAH) have fact sheets on cool room efficiency:
Start with understanding where your energy use is going. Install an electricity meter to your refrigeration equipment.
The meter can show you how much energy the equipment uses and when. This data can be analysed to see if the equipment is working efficiently.
Review your temperature settings to make sure they’re appropriate for your purpose.
An operations manager will be able to make this decision. If you don’t have an operations manager, call a refrigeration technician.
When your refrigeration unit heats up, it needs to use more energy to cool down.
Reduce heat gain by making sure cool room doors aren’t left open unnecessarily. Add a timed alarm to your system to make sure the cool room door is never left open.
If you have more than one refrigeration unit, consider whether you can consolidate the product into one.
Insulate coolant pipes to stop them from absorbing heat from their surroundings and affecting the performance of your refrigeration system.
Make sure insulation isn’t damaged. Regularly inspect insulated pipes for moisture. This can form ice on pipework and damage insulation.
Ice on pipework is an indication something isn’t working.
On average, insulating piping will:
Operational controls and variable speed drives work together to make your system more efficient.
Operational controls can switch the system on or off and adjusts the temperature. Make sure you regularly review your controls, set points and heat rejection.
Variable speed drives adjust the speed of compressors and pumps according to the load.
On average, operational controls will:
On average, a variable speed drive will:
Schedule regular maintenance with a refrigeration technician to make sure your system is working efficiently.
Whenever you make changes, measure the impact to continuously improve the performance of the system.
On average, regularly maintenance will:
The phase out of refrigerants might force you to design a new system. This is an opportunity to consider how your current system works and how a new system could be designed to work more efficiently for your business.
On average, updating your refrigeration system will:
For more information about using your refrigeration equipment efficiently, watch our refrigeration video series.
Most commercial refrigeration systems will contain a refrigerant that is being phased out.
This is because a lot of refrigerants release greenhouse gas that’s significantly contributing to climate change. Refrigeration systems leak – there’s nothing we can do about that.
Natural refrigerants are much more energy efficient and have no impact on climate change.
The phase out will mean that the synthetic refrigerants available in Australia will decrease over time. Eventually, there will be none left for your refrigeration system.
This gives you an opportunity to put in new systems.
Synthetic refrigerants that are being phased out are:
Call a refrigeration technician if you need advice.
For more information about managing the energy use in refrigeration and cool rooms, download the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage guide to industrial refrigeration (PDF, 4.77MB).
Our energy upgrade tool does the hard work for you. It recommends opportunities and funding options, and calculates return on investment for your business.
Use the energy upgrade tool.
You may be eligible for discounted energy-efficiency products and services, including refrigeration, through the Victorian Energy Upgrade program.
To get started, contact an accredited provider.
Then, you can pay for the remaining cost with energy-specific finance.
We’ll send you the latest sustainability information, tailored for business, including: