When the Energy Independence & Security Act of 2007 was enacted, it put equipment manufacturers in the energy spotlight, forcing compliance to groundbreaking standards in energy conservation. Since the law’s inception, which as a whole addressed energy independence and security across a variety of U.S. industries and product categories, equipment manufacturers have returned to the drawing boards to test existing products and research new offerings. Senior editor Katherine Field talked with Michael Evans, VP sales and marketing for Kalamazoo, Mich.-based Eliason Corp., about EISA’s impact on both sides of the retail equation: on vendors and on retailers.
How has EISA affected equipment manufacturers such as yourself, and what are its ramifications for retailers?
The Energy Independence & Security Act of 2007 (EISA) is a federal law that mandates strict new guidelines aimed at the reduction of energy consumption, reduced dependence on oil and strategies for addressing global climate change. As a result, equipment manufacturers have been forced to design products that meet the new energy-conservation standards. Likewise, retailers must now re-think the way they approach everything from store lighting to compressor motors to the doors used in walk-in cooler and freezer openings.
What kinds of measures do retailers need to take to meet EISA requirements or to factor the law into their store operations/equipment?
The new EISA regulations will affect decisions made by retailers regarding the equipment that they specify for their stores. For example, there are now strict requirements in place regarding the efficiency of the metal halide ballasts used in fluorescent light fixtures. In addition, walk-in coolers and freezers installed after Jan. 1, 2009, must have doors that have a minimum insulation value of R-25 and R-32, respectively.
What are some new products/product categories that are now on the market due to EISA?
Several double-acting door companies, including Eliason, have introduced cooler doors that meet the R-25 requirement. In fact, we offer three different models of EISA R-25 doors—all of which meet the new standard. We also offer a line of energy-saving covers that are installed on refrigerated cases in supermarkets, convenience stores, and other retail locations to minimize loss of refrigerated air and to protect product quality.
Another innovative product just released is the eCube by Eliason. This patented product has been proven to deliver energy cost savings of 10% to 30% in walk-in cooler/freezer and reach-in case applications.
How does the eCube compare with other, more standard energy-control models?
In a typical cooler or freezer, the compressor kicks on and off as the thermostat measures air temperature. So, when a cooler or freezer door is opened, the thermostat senses the temperature of the warmer air entering the area and signals the compressor to run. However, many times this is unnecessary as it takes much longer for the temperature of chilled or frozen food to change than it does for air temperature to change.
The eCube consists of a plastic case filled with a wax-like material that mimics the consistency and temperature of food product. By measuring the product temperature as opposed to the air temperature, the eCube helps to ensure product quality while greatly reducing the number of compressor run cycles. It is the start-up of the compressor that consumes the greatest amount of energy. In a typical application, compressor cycles are reduced up to 85% with a resulting energy cost savings of 10% to 30%.
What kinds of studies have you been involved with that quantify energy efficiency?
Eliason Corp. recently participated in a study conducted by Western Michigan University. In a side-by-side comparison with a competitive product, the EconoCover curtains were proven to be both more effective at reducing energy costs and less expensive to purchase and install.
We also worked with the Department of Energy in determining and documenting the effectiveness of the eCube. As testament to the device’s effectiveness, in an early test of the eCube, the Riverbank Park Plaza hotel in London installed it on 140 refrigerators and freezers and saw energy consumption on each unit fall by an average of 30% and its electricity bill cut by $33,500.