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Cutting Back Brings Payback

July 1, 2007
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Rich Hackner: financial incentives can help to motivate changeouts.

Louis Hobaica: get greener, industry.

Old habits die hard. Was that statement ever more correct than when applied to how people love to waste energy?

Energy gluttony is everywhere. In homes across the U.S., lights, computers, televisions, and other appliances
are left on when not in use. In supermarkets, refrigerator doors are left open by shoppers and employees alike, equipment maintenance is sometimes irregular, and equipment updates are often delayed, as more and more energy — and energy dollars — are sucked down the drain.

In the HVACR industry, energy stewardship is a huge priority, partly because energy has become so expensive, and partly because customers are being forced to become responsible energy consumers.

With stewardship in mind, therefore, increasing numbers of HVACR product manufacturers are designing new, or improved equipment that is more energy efficient than previous offerings.

Additionally, HVACR consumers are being encouraged to take advantage of the growing number of energy rebates offered by utilities by purchasing energy-efficient equipment, and HVACR contractors are encouraged to sell and install them.

White Paper Addresses Walk-in Coolers
A white paper by Emerson Climate Technologies, a business of Emerson — The Demand for Energy-Saving Incentives for High Efficiency Scroll Compressors in WalkIn Coolers — is the second report in the company's ongoing stewardship campaign to promote conservative energy policies. It specifically addresses the industry's concern and need for incentives for installing energyefficient refrigeration scroll compressors, and is an extension of the counselor role more manufacturers have adopted, as energy rulemaking and incentives proliferate.

The Emerson white paper encourages utility companies, consortiums, and state governments to enact energy-efficiency incentive programs for restaurants and convenience stores that purchase scroll compressor refrigeration equipment. It explains the energy-saving benefits of using high-efficiency scroll compressors in refrigeration applications with real-life examples from the dairy industry. The white paper is available by visiting

Good Response to Efficiency Message
Leland Smith, director of marketing for Emerson Climate Technologies refrigeration, says Emerson's energy awareness campaign began with e-mail messages to decision makers at utilities and government agencies. Hundreds responded, and requested more information.

Next, a follow-up survey was provided, to gauge the helpfulness of the white paper.

"We're now working to provide custom information to help utilities and government agencies make a decision relative to energyefficient scroll compressors," Smith says.

"There seems to be a high level of interest in energy efficiency and scroll technology at this point, so we're going to try to influence the influencers."

Environmental Benefits also Stressed
Another key benefit explained in the white paper is the lower carbon dioxide emissions related to the use of scroll compressors in walkin coolers for the food service industry, which, says Emerson, can reduce energy consumption by up to 20%. By using less energy, less fuel is needed, and energy-related carbon dioxide emissions — considered by many to be a primary contributor to greenhouse gas — are reduced.

Scroll Compressor Incentives

State Program sponsor Criteria Incentive per installed compressor
California EnSave Dairy farms: scroll compressor $500


EfficiencyMaine New milk house equipment $500


EnSave Dairy farms: scroll compressors for bulk tanks $200


Minnesota Power Commercial and industrial customers Based on customer power demand and equipment installation


Efficiency Vermont Small commercial refrigeration: new compressors, discus or scroll Discus: 3HP = $375; 10HP = $1,250 Scroll: 2HP = $220; 10HP = $1,100


Focus on Energy Dairy farms: scroll compressor replacement $250 (limit two compressors)
Courtesy Emerson Climate Technologies

State, Utility Incentives
Several states and utilities are now promoting financial incentives to energy users, to encourage energy conservation. According to the Emerson report, no two states are alike in their support of efficiency-based incentive programs.

Similar to popular homeowner tax credits, the U.S. government, states, utilities, and consortiums now offer attractive incentives to businesses that purchase high-efficiency refrigeration equipment. Those incentives include grants and financial assistance for new construction projects, rate reduction credits and tax credits, and rebates for high-efficiency retrofits.

Some states are also offering financial incentives to refrigeration consumers who use high-efficiency components, such as scroll compressors, with the dairy industry being exceptionally aggressive in obtaining rebates related to equipment replacement.

The accompanying table shows the incentives five states currently offer to dairy farmers for purchasing high-efficiency scroll compressors for their daily refrigeration needs.

For example, Focus on Energy, a Wisconsin public-private partnership, offers information and services to encourage energy efficiency, provides rebates of up to $500 to dairy farms that replace old compressors with scroll compressors.

Rich Hackner, principal and region manager for the utility consulting firm GDS Associates, Madison, WI, and sector manager for Focus on Energy, says the financial incentives were offered to give refrigeration customers —and refrigeration contractors — an added motivation to replace reciprocating compressors with scroll units.

"When we started the program, we faced a market barrier, in that contractors who principally serve the dairy industry were all geared up to do maintenance and service on reciprocating compressors; they didn't want to go to the trouble of redoing their trucks and inventories to accommodate scroll compressors," Hackner says, and adds that "the high cost of equipment failure" message is another useful approach contractors may use to support changeouts.

Contractor Awareness, Activity
Contractors are gradually adopting greater roles as energy efficiency consultants and advocates.

Murphy & Miller, Chicago, IL, is a 25-yearold Design/Build and HVACR maintenance contracting firm that employs a staff engineer, whose sole responsibility is to perform energy audits for interested customers.

"He checks insulation throughout the building, the lighting, and the age, type, and SEER rating
of the equipment, and tells them what they can do to save energy," says Carl Wiggington, vice president of service.

The company can do this because it provides a full line of services, including refrigeration systems, refrigerant recovery, refrigerant storage, and system conversions.

Louis Hobaica, general manager of Hobaica Service, Inc., a 55-year-old HVACR company based in Phoenix, AZ, faithfully uses Copeland Scroll compressors, and believes the refrigeration industry can become greener by adopting a system-matching protocol, as is currently practiced in the HVAC industry. HVAC manufacturers go to great lengths to properly size and match numerous pieces of equipment to meet a variety of demands, while maintaining the highest efficiencies possible.

"We have ‘green' automobiles, to limit excessive fuel consumption, but we need to focus on ‘greener' refrigeration and air conditioning equipment," Hobaica says.

"Years ago, we used a lot of heat recovery to recapture wasted energy, which is still used today, but can be cost prohibitive. In refrigeration, equipment is matched according to the application and capacity required. There doesn't seem to be a high priority placed on system efficiency.

"And, we can't use programmable, energy-saving controls as easily as we can with HVAC equipment, due to the product requiring a constant temperature. I do my part to properly size the equipment to load and application, including proper equipment placement and installation. But, I rely on the equipment manufacturers to make efficiency and green improvements."

Much of the industry is focused on improved heat exchange materials, more efficient compression methods, and environmentally friendly refrigerants, but Hobaica says he would like to see some "out of the box" thinking in areas related to the refrigeration cycle, compression, heat exchange, and refrigerants.

"We're already way behind the need to focus on improved efficiencies and a greener environment for a safe and healthy tomorrow," Hobaica says.

Two Messages, One Opportunity
Is energy efficiency receiving more, less, or an equal reception than the carbon dioxide issue? Leland Smith sees a combined interest in both, with some market segments taking notice of the more immediate energy savings benefits.

"Utility companies are obliged to issue rebates, and are promoting the financial payback, however a growing number is becoming more interested in the climate change issue," Smith says, and adds that Emerson would welcome advice from proactive, civic-minded contractors who might be willing and able to suggest effective ways to reach out to local utilities or chambers of commerce, with energy-efficiency messages.

Promoting the energy efficiency message, then, is everybody's "business," in more ways than one. It's an act of stewardship that benefits the user, and at the same time, can drive a contractor to new heights of service.

This refrigeration series is sponsored by EMERSON