How Much Does It Really Cost to Run a Commercial Fridge?

How Much Does It Really Cost to Run a Commercial Fridge?

Running a restaurant or any food-related business comes with a myriad of expenses. Operating a commercial refrigerator is one of the most significant yet often overlooked costs. Understanding this cost is crucial for restaurant and small business owners making financial plans, managing budgets, or contemplating upgrades.
In this blog post, we’ll explore the various factors influencing the cost of running a commercial fridge, offer energy-saving tips, and help you make informed decisions to keep your expenses manageable.

Factors Affecting The Cost Of Running A Commercial Fridge

Several variables impact the cost of running a commercial refrigerator, including its size, efficiency, usage patterns, maintenance, and local energy prices. Let’s break these down.

The size of the refrigerator directly affects its energy consumption, with larger units typically requiring more electricity. Efficiency is another crucial factor; modern, energy-efficient models often consume less power than older units. Usage patterns, such as the frequency of door openings and the load of stored items, also significantly determine operational costs. Regular maintenance ensures optimal performance and prevents costly repairs or energy waste. Lastly, local energy prices can vary greatly, influencing the equipment’s overall cost. Understanding these factors can help manage and potentially reduce operating expenses.

Factors Affecting The Cost Of Running A Commercial Fridge

1. Size and Type of the Refrigerator

Commercial refrigerators come in various sizes and types, each with different energy needs:

  • Undercounter Refrigerators: Smaller units are typically used for quick access to items.
  • Reach-In Refrigerators: Standard in many commercial kitchens, available in one, two, or three-door configurations.
  • Walk-in refrigerators: Larger units are used for bulk storage and are often found in larger restaurants and food service operations.

The larger the unit, the more energy it will consume. However, efficiency varies not just with size but also with the type and brand of the refrigerator.

2. Energy Efficiency Rating

Energy-efficient models can save substantial operational costs, significantly reducing utility bills. Those with ENERGY STAR ratings are worth considering when shopping for a new refrigerator. These ratings indicate that the appliance meets the stringent energy efficiency guidelines of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act. Not only do these models help the environment by consuming less energy, but they also offer long-term financial benefits. Moreover, many ENERGY STAR-rated refrigerators have advanced features, such as improved temperature control and enhanced storage options, providing a better overall user experience.

3. Usage Patterns

How often the refrigerator doors are opened and closed, the ambient temperature of the kitchen, and the frequency of stock replenishment all affect energy consumption. More frequent door openings can cause the refrigerator to work harder to maintain its temperature, increasing energy use. If the kitchen is particularly warm, the refrigerator must also exert more effort to stay cool, further raising energy consumption. Additionally, regularly stocking the fridge with new items can introduce warmer temperatures inside, prompting the appliance to use additional energy to bring these items to the desired cooling level. Understanding these factors can help in managing energy efficiency more effectively.

4. Maintenance and Condition

Regular maintenance ensures that the refrigerator runs efficiently. This includes cleaning the condenser coils, inspecting and replacing damaged door gaskets, and ensuring proper insulation around the unit. Dirty coils can restrict airflow, causing the compressor to work harder and consume more energy. Damaged gaskets can allow cold air to escape, leading to temperature fluctuations and increased energy usage. Poor insulation can also compromise the refrigerator’s ability to maintain the desired temperature, further straining its components and driving up energy costs. By addressing these issues, you can extend the lifespan of your refrigerator and keep it running at peak performance.

5. Local Energy Prices

Energy costs vary by location, and understanding this can significantly impact your expenses. The local price per kilowatt-hour (kWh) will directly affect how much you spend running your commercial refrigerator. Additionally, regional energy policies and seasonal fluctuations can influence these costs, making it essential to stay informed about local energy rates.
Calculating the Cost

Calculating the Cost

To estimate the operational cost of your commercial fridge, you need to know several key factors. These include the unit’s energy consumption rate, the electricity cost in your area, and the number of hours the fridge runs each day. Additionally, consider any maintenance costs and potential energy efficiency measures you could implement.

  • The unit’s power consumption (usually in watts or kilowatts).
  • Your local electricity rate (cost per kWh).
  • The number of hours the refrigerator runs daily.

Tips to Reduce Operational Costs

Reducing the cost of running a commercial refrigerator can significantly impact your bottom line, helping you save money and improve overall efficiency. Here are some practical tips to achieve this:

1. Regular Maintenance

Routine commercial refrigerator maintenance, such as cleaning the condenser coils, checking door seals for any leaks, and ensuring proper airflow, can significantly maintain and even improve the refrigerator’s efficiency. Regularly cleaning the interior and exterior surfaces, defrosting the freezer, and inspecting the temperature settings are also important practices. These preventive measures not only help extend the appliance’s lifespan but also contribute to energy savings and better performance.

2. Upgrade to Energy-Efficient Models

While there’s an upfront cost, investing in energy-efficient refrigerators can lead to substantial long-term savings on your utility bills. These appliances use advanced technology to minimize power consumption while keeping your food fresh and cool. Look for models with high ENERGY STAR ratings, which indicate superior efficiency and performance. Over time, the savings on energy costs will more than make up for the initial investment, and you’ll also contribute towards a greener environment.

3. Optimize Usage

  • Minimize Door Openings: Train staff to reduce the frequency and duration of door openings.
  • Organize Inventory: Keep frequently used items within easy reach to minimize door open time.

4. Temperature Settings

Ensure your refrigerator is set to the manufacturer’s recommended temperature, typically found in the user manual or on the appliance itself. Setting it lower than necessary can waste energy without improving food safety, leading to higher electricity bills and unnecessary strain on the appliance. Proper temperature settings save energy and help maintain the optimal freshness and longevity of your food items.

5. Improve Kitchen Ventilation

A well-ventilated kitchen can significantly reduce the heat load on your refrigerator, making it easier for the unit to maintain its optimal temperature. Proper ventilation ensures that hot air from cooking appliances dissipates quickly, preventing it from affecting the refrigerator’s performance. This not only enhances the efficiency of your refrigerator but also extends its lifespan and helps maintain the freshness of your stored food.

6. Energy Audits

Conduct regular energy audits to identify inefficiencies and areas for improvement in your energy consumption. These audits can help pinpoint issues, such as outdated equipment or poor insulation, that may drive up energy costs. Some utility companies offer free energy audits to businesses, providing a comprehensive analysis and recommendations to enhance energy efficiency and reduce expenses. Taking advantage of these services can lead to significant long-term savings and a smaller environmental footprint.


Understanding the cost of running a commercial fridge is essential for restaurant and small business owners who aim to balance efficiency and expense. You can better manage these costs by considering factors like size, energy efficiency, usage patterns, and maintenance.

Implementing energy-saving practices and installing more efficient commercial fridges can lead to substantial savings. So, take the time to evaluate your current equipment and operations. Small changes can lead to significant financial benefits over time.

Stay tuned to our blog for more insights on managing business expenses and optimizing operations. Feel free to reach out if you have specific questions or need personalized advice. Together, we can find the best solutions to keep your business running smoothly and efficiently.