Make It Work

by Katie Lee

Meaningful energy savings without buying new equipment.

By Douglas Reinke

Retail and restaurant managers ensure the smooth running of store operations — a job that may sound simple enough, but when you factor in compliance with local codes, appropriate staffing, inventory control and so many other complicated and important tasks, it’s easy to see that this is a difficult job.

With everything it takes to run a successful establishment, it’s no wonder there are certain things that simply go unnoticed until they’re broken. We take all lot of things for granted — like point of sale systems, security, refrigeration equipment and our heating and air conditioning infrastructure. But while many of these systems may not be top of mind when they function properly, their capacity to passively cost retail stores and restaurants thousands of dollars a year in hidden costs cannot be understated.

BluongraphicTake electricity as an example. National Grid, a major utility provider, estimates that, on average, restaurants alone spend $2.90 per square foot on electricity for cooling systems, and when you factor in the $0.85 per square foot spent on natural gas for heating — this means a substantial portion of one’s operating costs are going towards energy.

That’s a large line item to be considered passive and fixed. With nearly 40% of the world’s electricity consumed by HVAC-R systems (air conditioners and refrigeration systems), there is a major need and opportunity to address energy efficiency. The best comparable example and recent opportunity is LED lighting and the proven impact on savings they have produced.

The next frontier for efficiency is in HVAC-R with a major difference: new equipment, unlike lightbulbs, can be hundreds of thousands of dollars. The key to realizing savings is ensuring your existing system — which most likely has many years of life left — is running as efficiently as possible. The timing is also ripe to address the efficiency issue. In December 2019, global production and importation of refrigerants (R-22) that power most systems will end, which will force the industry to make a choice: replace the units before the end of their useful life, or switch to a different refrigerant.

The choice to replace an HVAC-R unit is never exciting as it is highly costly and often disruptive to business operations, taking a big chunk out of the bottom line for that year. In many scenarios, owners and operators simply cannot bear the burden and expense to fully replace equipment. However, there is a solution for proactively maintaining the systems currently in place.

Choosing to maintain an existing system by keeping the infrastructure and replacing the refrigerant is a much more cost-effective endeavor than replacing the HVAC-R equipment. The key is to replace the existing refrigerant with a more efficient refrigerant that allows the existing system to operate using less energy. Also by upgrading the existing system to an energy-efficient replacement refrigerant, it becomes a proactive, cost-effective investment to lower operational expenses without the typical 20+ year ROI and all of the headaches associated with new equipment.

The answer seems clear. The marketplace needs to look with a fresh approach to see what can be done within the existing infrastructure to effectuate rapid energy savings, cost effectively, while benefiting the environment at the same time. These kinds of solutions represent a new approach to the often-neglected HVAC-R equipment to provide immediate cost savings and sustainability benefits to your business. It tackles the largest component of your electricity expense and thus carbon footprint in a meaningful way without requiring a significant capital expense.


— Doug Reinke is president and CEO of Bluon Energy, the creator and manufacturer of Bluon TdX 20 (R-458A), a revolutionary energy-efficient replacement refrigerant for R-22. Bluon TdX 20 allows end-users the ability to cost-effectively upgrade their existing HVAC-R systems to significantly decrease their energy consumption. 

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