New Energy Efficiency Standards for Coolers and Freezers

On May 9, 2014, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced two new energy efficiency standards as part of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan. These new standards for electric motors and walk-in coolers and freezers are meant to aid in the reduction of harmful carbon pollution by up to 158 million metric tons, which is equal to the annual electricity use of more than 21 million homes. The new standards are set to save businesses $26 billion on utility bills through 2030.

Electric motors are used in a variety of applications such as industrial machines, conveyor belts, and escalators. A standard 30-horsepower electric motor consumes approximately 62,000 kilowatt-hours per year. The new DOE energy standards for electric motors will prevent 96 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions through 2030. More pertinent to concessions operations, walk-in coolers and freezers, such as the milk display at the supermarket, will also be affected by the new energy standards. A walk-in cooler or freezer is defined as an enclosed storage space less than 3,000 square feet in area, refrigerated to a temperature at or below 32 degrees Fahrenheit. This definition excludes products designed and marketed exclusively for medical, scientific or research purposes. This standard will help cut energy bills by about $10 billion and will reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 62 million metric tons through 2030. Because the majority of walk-in coolers and freezers operate continuously to keep contents cold at all times, the DOE is not proposing standards for standby and off-mode energy use1, which are often cited as energy-saving practices.

Increasing energy efficiency is one of the most cost-effective ways to save money while cutting greenhouse gas emissions. The DOE Appliance and Equipment Standards Program, which offers further information on the new standards, covers more than 50 products and has served as one of the nation’s most effective policies for improving energy efficiency and saving consumers energy and money. While these standards affect manufacturers rather than actual park operations, they should be seen more as guidance for future sustainability options rather than new requirements. Concessioners looking to move beyond compliance could begin preparing plans to retrofit current electric motors or coolers and freezers where appropriate, feasible, and economically justified. Doing so may result in long-term cost savings and will help you realize best management practices and comply with contract obligations as well as internal sustainability goals.

These new standards (outlined in Title 10 of the Code of Federal Regulations, Part 431) incorporate feedback from the industry, consumers, and environmental advocacy groups. They will go into effect three years after publication in the Federal Register for coolers and freezers, and two years after publication for electric motors. For more information, please see the Department of Energy news release as well as the Appliance and Equipment Standards website.


1 https://www1.eere.energy.gov/buildings/appliance_standards/pdfs/wicf_nopr_notice.pdf