It's been a difficult year for the hospitality industry and many businesses are looking for energy-efficient and cost-effective solutions for their commercial equipment. Ice machines require both electricity and water to function, which can lead to expensive utility bills. To save energy and money, companies often turn their ice machines off. What many in the industry don’t realize is that even with limited usage, it’s important to run the ice machines to prevent the growth of harmful bacteria.
Power consumption differs between ice machine models, with smaller machines typically requiring less voltage than a larger ice machine. At Easy Ice we have spent over a decade developing best practices and tips to help business owners use their ice machines in the most energy and cost-efficient ways.
Look into the EPA’s Energy Star Program
In the ongoing struggle to limit overhead costs, an energy efficient ice maker can save you hundreds of dollars a year. The Energy Star program has saved consumers and businesses over $430 billion in energy costs. This program is a way for customers to identify the most energy-efficient appliances—in this case, ice machines. The EPA awards its coveted Energy Star to energy efficient ice machine models that demonstrate 15 percent more energy efficiency and 10 percent more water efficiency than standard ice machine models. Energy-efficient ice machines help minimize electricity and water costs while also limiting the overall carbon footprint of a restaurant.
Know Your Ice Machine’s Electrical Usage
Installing commercial ice equipment means meeting various installation requirements such as drainage, space, and connecting the unit to the correct water line. An outlet that has the proper voltage is crucial to meet the ice machine’s electrical usage. While smaller commercial ice machines require lower voltage and produce less energy, not using the correct outlet can lead to machine breakdowns, lower ice production, and expensive repairs. To save money in the long run, hire a professional ice machine technician to install your ice machine and avoid these potential pitfalls.
Take These Steps to Keep Your Ice Machine Energy Efficient
- Clean the filters in your ice machine every two weeks.
- Keep the lid to the ice storage bin closed when not scooping ice.
- Maintain excellent air flow and circulation around the machine and keep your unit free of clutter.
- Have your ice machine regularly cleaned and maintained by a professional ice machine technician.
- Avoid water-cooled units which use hundreds of gallons of water a day.
Know the risk if you stop running your ice machine to save energy
If ice machines are improperly turned off, it may grow harmful bacteria. However, many restaurants have had irregular hours of operation due to the pandemic or are still in the process of opening back up. For businesses that won’t need ice for even a couple of weeks, it’s a good idea to turn off an ice maker—properly. There are specific processes recommended to follow to safely shut off an ice machine. Consult the unit’s service manual for instruction on how to turn off the ice maker.
Shutting down an ice maker will save in utility costs and help to safeguard the establishment should anything go wrong. Leaks or freeze-ups can damage the automatic ice machine or the building if they are left unattended.
Commercial ice machines are designed to run until a bin fills with ice, but don’t assume that the ice machine will stop running on a full bin. Even if no one is there to scoop the ice out of a bin, the ice will still eventually melt. As the ice level drops in the bin, the machine will continue to produce ice, always keeping the bin full. Turning it off will save money by shutting off power and water to the ice maker. When it’s time to turn the ice machine back on, call your local ice machine service technician to inspect the unit and ensure it is properly cleaned.
Following the above tips will ensure that restaurants save the most on their monthly bills while also keeping the environment in mind.
John Mahlmeister is the Chief Operating Officer and Co-Founder of Easy Ice. Easy Ice is co-headquartered in Phoenix, AZ and Marquette, MI, and is the national leader in the full-service ice machine subscription industry with warehouse and distribution facilities in Chicago, Dallas, Kansas City and Orlando. Since its founding in 2009, the company has rapidly grown its ice machines under management to 25,000 units across 47 states. Easy Ice's commercial ice machine subscription program includes installation, cleaning, preventive maintenance, repairs, backup ice, and peak demand ice. The company operates under three brands: Ice Masters in Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma; Automatic Icemakers in Chicago; Polar Ice in Denver; and Easy Ice in all other cities and states. For more information, please visit www.easyice.com.