The next time you walk into a gas station convenience store during the winter to grab a bottle of soda, consider the various heat stages you go through.
First you’re outside in sub-zero degree temperature. Then you enter a comfortably heated store. Then you approach a freezer where you open a door, reach onto a cold shelf, and grab your frosty bottle. Little do you know that the freezer door is heated to keep from fogging up. Does any of this make sense?
A U.S. company selling a product called the Freeaire Refrigeration System thinks so. It is trying to convince companies with a walk-in freezer, cooler or cold storage that they can dramatically reduce their energy bills by cooling products with outdoor air. The Freeaire system not only brings in air from outside, it balances it with the entire refrigeration system to make sure the temperature is consistent regardless of the weather. In many ways it complements Ice Energy’s Ice Bear system, which works best during warm seasons.
A company called Verta Energy Services distributes the Freeaire product in Canada. So far it has convinced Sunoco to trial the product at one of its gas station stores north of Toronto. Mac’s, a major convenience store retailer in Canada, is also testing out the system at one of its stores in Ontario.
It’s a relatively simple concept. Half the time getting companies to embrace the idea is as easy as getting a company to just think about it. Given time-of-using pricing in Ontario, to be introduced later next year, will put a premium of peak-time electricity use perhaps it’s time that more retailers give it a thought.