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HVAC energy usage plays a large role in supermarket budgets, and today’s systems are significantly reducing that usage while maintaining an inviting store environment.
“We look for a system that excels at dehumidification, or reducing the amount of humidity in the store,” says Karen O’Shea, of Keasbey, N.J.-based Wakefern Food Corp. “Our refrigeration cases are designed to operate at very specific temperatures and relative-humidity environments, so it’s important for us to control humidity in stores.”
The primary system in Wakefern’s ShopRite stores employs a regenerative drying technology that’s “very efficient when it comes to heating and cooling the store,” O’Shea notes. “The secondary systems we choose are high-efficiency units specifically designed for humidity control. ShopRite works hard to apply sustainable solutions in an effort to shrink our environmental footprint.”
ShopRite stores usually upgrade their HVAC systems at the end of a typical 15-year life cycle, according to O’Shea.
Including variable-speed fan control as a standard would help improve HVAC efficiency, O’Shea asserts. “Tuning the speed of the fan while heating or cooling, and slowing the fan when not heating or cooling, can significantly reduce energy consumption when combined with other technologies to ensure proper ventilations,” she says.
Save More Food Markets Inc., in Minocqua, Wis., looks for a return on investment in an HVAC system to be as short as possible for “a noticeable savings on the monthly energy cost,” says President Jim Gauden. Save More has been updating its HVAC by “adding newer units to better control the front of the store,” he observes. “This conditions the air getting into the store better, to keep the older unit on the back half from running hard.”
With the older units next on the upgrade list, Gauden notes that Save More evaluates its system twice yearly and has regularly scheduled maintenance to uncover potential problems before they happen.
“This also helps us better determine the life of existing units,” he says, “but overall upgrades usually happen when absolutely needed or the old unit is simply costing too much to operate.”
Better air circulation and more efficient fans would improve today’s systems, Gauden suggests.
According to Danny Miller, president of Transformative Wave at Kennesaw, Ga.-based Emerson Commercial & Residential Solutions, there are new HVAC controls that allow grocers to retrofit an existing system quickly, easily and cost-effectively.