Commercial refrigerators and freezers are a staple in hotel kitchens, university cafeterias, convenience stores and restaurants. And, these appliances are also some of the biggest energy users. In the United States alone, refrigeration counts for nearly 25% of the energy consumption in foodservice facilities, making it a major factor in the operating costs of many businesses.

However, commercial refrigerators and freezers that have earned the ENERGY STAR are on average 20% more energy efficient than standard models, and can save businesses $300-$420 in energy savings. 

When commercial refrigerators and freezers first became eligible for the ENERGY STAR label, provided by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Washington, D.C., in 2001, it gave business owners a much needed tool in finding the most energy efficient products on the market. Prior to that, most equipment decisions were based mainly on considerations of safety, serviceability and cost. 

More recently though, energy consumption has become an important aspect of the purchasing decision. Today, energy efficiency is usually listed as one of the Top 5 criteria in equipment selection.  

Customers in this market have grown to expect and value energy efficiency. Before 2001, the average reach-in, commercial refrigerator used about 3,400 kWh/year or more; today, an ENERGY STAR-certified model uses less than 600 kWh/year. That’s about an 85% reduction in just over 15 years.

The great news is that on top of the energy savings, utility programs across the country offer incentives to assist business owners in making the purchase of an energy efficient model.For those in the refrigerated and frozen foods industry, it pays to look for these incentives when purchasing commercial refrigerators and freezers. 

The easiest way to take advantage of these incentives is to check the ENERGY STAR Rebate Finder website at, and search for nationwide rebates by zip code. The website offers dozens of incentives for the purchase of commercial refrigerators and freezers, both mail-in and instant. Obtaining these rebates is a simple process, no different than what everyday consumers do when redeeming a rebate for an item purchased at a local store. But, the reward for using these rebates can be great, with some current offerings topping $500. 

While on the ENERGY STAR website, users can also learn more about commercial building design, industrial energy management, how to motivate employees with competition, how to build an energy program, how to earn recognition, energy usage intensity and benchmarking and access how-to training guides, videos and webinars.

The key to being eligible for many of the utility rebates is looking for the government-backed ENERGY STAR label. Finding it will help save energy, money and the planet. Just think, if all commercial refrigerators and freezers sold in the United States were ENERGY STAR-certified, the energy cost savings would grow to nearly $235 million each year and more than 5 billion pounds of annual greenhouse gas emissions would be prevented, equivalent to the emissions from over 480,000 vehicles.