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Energy Star Label on Ice Machines Ensures Higher Degree of Water, Energy Efficiency

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NATIONAL REPORT—Selecting an ice machine is a major purchase consideration for any hotel manager. The energy used in the average hotel restaurant for refrigeration and ice production is between 13 and 18 percent of overall energy costs for that section. Saving money on these costs not only helps the environment, but also helps the bottom line. How can we reduce energy usage and water usage while still generating enough ice to maintain service quality?

Water efficiency in ice machines is based on number of gallons per 100 pounds of ice produced. This can range between 18 gallons to 200 gallons per 100 pounds. Water efficiency of ice machine units can be anywhere from 66 percent all the way down to 5 percent water efficient. Why such a big discrepancy?

First, some ice machines are water cooled. Water cooled units are more energy efficient, but extra water must go to cooling the machine without making ice. Conversely, air cooled ice machines use less water but are more energy efficient. You may be forced by local code to stick with one type or the other.

Most Nugget Ice 20 Percent Water

Wasted water is a big concern for machines that make flake ice or nugget ice. The way that they make these soft varieties of ice is to not freeze the water completely. Most nugget ice is around 80 percent ice and 20 percent water. The excess water that doesn’t get frozen or trapped in the nuggets gets washed down the drain. Thus, an inefficient flake or nugget ice machine could hit you in the wallet for both energy use and water use.

The big ice machine companies like Ice-O-Matic, Hoshizaki, Scotsman, and Manitowoc are constantly researching methods to make their machines more water- and energy-efficient. One of the main ways that you can know whether or not an ice machine is actually efficient is to look for an Energy Star label.

The Energy Star program was formed in 1992 to reward business owners and consumers for making efficient energy and conservation choices in the equipment they use. It is a voluntary program created through the EPA. The program was originally for home appliances, but has since been extended to cover many different types of equipment.

The Energy Star label is not one that is afforded to every product within the category. The criteria for which products are given the label are as follows:

•   Product categories must contribute significant energy savings nationwide.
•   Qualified products must deliver the features and performance demanded by consumers, in addition to increased energy efficiency.
•   If the qualified product costs more than a conventional, less-efficient counterpart, purchasers will recover their investment in increased energy efficiency through utility bill savings, within a reasonable period of time.
•   Energy efficiency can be achieved through broadly available, non-proprietary technologies offered by more than one manufacturer.
•   Product energy consumption and performance can be measured and verified with testing.
•   Labeling would effectively differentiate products and be visible for purchasers.

The ice machines that qualify for this rating must meet certain requirements to match these guidelines. For a while, Energy Star was not placing their seal on any water cooled machines. Companies such as Scotsman, Hoshizaki America, and Manitowoc have made advances that make it possible for their water cooled units to bear this important indicator of both energy and water efficiency. For the curious, the official requirements can be found here.

However, you don’t have to know the specs to choose an Energy Star qualified machine. All you need to do is look for the Energy Star symbol on the machine. Fortunately, the Energy Star website has a list of which makes and models qualify under the program, as well as their water usage and energy usage. The information can be found here.

Three Types of Machines

If you are looking for a flake or nugget ice machine, you’ll want to look for machines that are labeled “continuous” in the ice type column. “Batch” machines are for cubed ice makers. The machines are also further divided into three different types:

•    Ice Making Heads: In this type, the compressor and the ice making components are in one unit, but have a separate storage bin.
•    Remote Condensing Unit: The compressor and the ice making components are separate.
•    Self Contained Unit: The compressor, ice making components, and the storage bin are all in one cabinet.

Once you know the type of machine you need, you can compare energy and water usage at the Energy Star site. From there it is a simple matter of going to the websites of the manufacturers to get further information about the machines like size, cost, etc.

Another advantage of getting Energy Star equipment is that you may be eligible for tax incentives and utility savings. Check with your local municipality for more details.

Together, we can take advantage of the most energy and water efficient appliance choices available to make greener choices for our businesses.

Nick Jakubowski is with Ice Machines Plus, a company that carries many Energy Star compliant ice machines.

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