Energy consumption, and for most in the arena business that means electricity, is one of the most costly problems facing our industry. We have no choice but to use energy. Large overhead lights are required when rinks are in use. To maintain ice at a safe and usable temperature, compressors must run. In the ice arena business we have little choice as to when our equipment runs, so in order to be cost effective, we must look for methods of conserving energy.
Deregulation of electrical rates is impacting some areas of the country. Competition is lowering, the rate per kilowatt; however, legislation may allow these large suppliers of power to charge any rate they choose in the future. It's possible that the cheaper rates offered today will disappear in a few years. With no government intervention or local control, we could see increased rates for energy, not lower rates as promised. Ice rinks should enjoy deregulation now but not count on it for long-term energy savings.
Not too many years ago, the ice skating industry was flooded with energy saving gimmicks, Salesmen with one week of training were peddling all sorts of energy saving devices "just prefect for ice rinks." Many of these purchased gimmicks are now sitting unused in dark corners of rinks. Some of those "highly trained" salespeople are now selling used cars, and many of the sales companies are out of business. If nothing else, during this period we leaned who to trust.
Vendors who specialize in selling to ice rinks cannot afford to make mistakes. They must sell products that have been rested and proven in ice rink applications. These are the same companies that have met our needs for years. They attend our trade shows, know their products, and have knowledge to back up their claims. These true experts have produced many energy saving products that have achieved a track record in our industry.
The following list of energy saving products work and are worth consideration.
Energy Saving Operation Offer Reasonable Pay Back
Desiccant Dehumidification: Humidity, a by-product of ice rinks, is possibly the single largest factor in kilowatt consumption in ice rinks, because humidity causes your compressors to run longer. Desiccant dehumidification removes humidity faster cheaper, and easier than any other system. It does not use air conditioning; it does not take away from your compressors. It leaves a dry, comfortable rink with a superior sheet of ice. You can feel and see the difference in the rink. It also reduces interior painting needs on steel beams.
Desiccant dehumidification costs less to run any other dehumidification system and it saves money since compressors are no longer required to overcome the refrigeration load caused by humidity. Many rinks recover the cost of desiccant dehumidification from energy savings within three years.
Low E Ceiling: One of the easiest and most proven methods of saving energy is with Low E (emissivity) ceiling. This special ceiling fabric traps heat between it and the roof. Heat rays are not allowed to radiate back onto the ice which reduces the load placed on the refrigeration system. In addition, the Low E ceiling improves the look of your rink and increases the brightness of your lights.
One Massachusetts rink installed both a Low E ceiling and desiccant dehumidification and saved over $ 100 a day in electrical costs. Savings amounted to $ 2,800 per month and over $33,000 a year. Individual applications may rinks comes quickly.
System Shut Down: Rinks using computers to shut down their refrigeration system from midnight to 5:00 or 6:00 a.m. have noted energy savings. Shutting down the compressors when the overhead lights are not in use and ice resurfacing is not required can be effective.
Evidence indicates that use less electricity to lower the temperature of the glycol at start-up than would have been used during the shut-down hours. Rinks, with lower ice usage and longer down-time, might find the system shut down method of energy conservation beneficial.