Research project finds raising commercial freezer temperatures will produce significant energy savings

Ellen Cools
June 04, 2018
By
June 4, 2018 — A Toronto research project found that raising freezer temperatures in commercial food establishments by three degrees will result in electricity savings of over 10% for Ontario businesses without impacting food safety.

The project also found that storing food at -15°C for short periods of time, compared to the current standard of -18°C, will not impact the quality of the frozen food.

As a result of this work, efforts by the Ontario Restaurant, Hotel and Motel Association (ORHMA), and analysis by the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, the standard temperature set-point of commercial freezers is being eliminated in a new Ontario regulation, to be enacted July 1, 2018.

The new regulation will require that food establishments only keep food in a ‘frozen state,’ giving owners more flexibility on the temperature at which they can store their frozen food.

“This is an important decision by the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care,” said James Alden, leader in the energy efficiency sector and developer of the project. “Frozen is frozen, and there is no public health risk to warming standard freezer temperatures slightly. For Ontario, this decision will support efforts on climate change, and if adopted more broadly on a global basis, will have a major impact on reducing the electricity use of the over 1.5 billion commercial freezers worldwide.”

In Ontario, the -18°C standard was set in the early 1960s. Today’s more sophisticated and efficient cold chain system (the production, freezing, storage and transportation of food) and a recognition that food bacteria is inert in a frozen state, allows for a higher commercial freezer temperature for local businesses like restaurants, hotels and retailers. The change will significantly save on energy use in Ontario and reduce refrigeration costs for business owners.

The research was conducted with funding from the Conservation Fund of the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO), and with support from organizations including Toronto Hydro, Toronto Public Health and the ORHMA.

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