Ice Machines: Save Energy, Save Water

Picture different jurisdictions and entities staking out their territories and trying to raise the bar, and you’ll picture what’s been happening in the commercial ice-machine business. Effective Jan. 1, 2010, you’ll have a base-line federal minimum standard for energy efficiency. Then apart from that, there’s been the California Energy Commission standard in that state. And then there’s the Energy Star standard, which addresses both energy and water consumption.

Interestingly, all three standards have a common ancestor.

A few years back, the Consortium for Energy Efficiency, a broad coalition of industry, government and academic experts, began working on a new set of efficiency standards for ice machines. In the process, CEE coordinated with several organizations, including the Air-Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration Institute. AHRI was a great partner, in that it had been testing and rating its members’ ice machines for energy and water use for years. AHRI’s standard 810-2006, which measures harvest rate, energy use per day, and water use per 100 lbs. of ice produced, has generated a wealth of data to work from, and you can check it out at

With input from a wide array of stakeholders, then, CEE developed a three-tiered system of efficiency standards for commercial ice machines. The CEE’s tier-one standards, which address energy consumption only, were quickly adopted by the California Energy Commission and have already been in place in that state for two years.

As California’s new standards were going into effect, the Environmental Protection Agency was working hard to get its Energy Star standard nailed down, too. Since the CEE had already done the work of establishing three tiers of energy efficiency, the EPA set Tier 2, which addresses both energy and water consumption, as the Energy Star standard.

New Fed Standard Matches California’s
Coinciding roughly with all that, the Energy Policy Act of 2005 called for the Department of Energy to set a federal standard for ice machines, to be effective this coming Jan. 1. With no need to reinvent the wheel, DOE lighted on standards essentially identical to California’s. As a result of all that, there are already far more than 200 commercial ice-machine models that meet or exceed the minimum efficiency requirements. As of the first of the year, you won’t be able to buy an ice maker that doesn’t meet the specs.

All of which is good for you, the ice-machine user. And it’s even better for Energy Star customers. Remember, the thing about the Energy Star (and the even tougher CEE Tier 3) standards is that like those for dishwashers, they set specs for both energy and water use. The specs in the table mean that most Energy Star-qualified ice machines will use about 15% less energy and 10% less water than standard machines.

Those percentages translate to savings of about 1,160kWh/year and 2,700 gals./year of water, which works out to about $110 annually, give or take. Add in the various incentive programs in many parts of the country, and you’ve got yourself a clear advantage. For info on one type of incentive, rebates, go to At press time there were 181 different utilities, coast to coast, offering rebates. And that doesn’t count other kinds of incentives.

More Advances Coming Soon
Keep in mind, too, some ice machines on the market already meet CEE’s Tier 3 standards. In general these will be at least another 15% more energy efficient and 10% more water efficient than Energy Star units. Depending on how quickly other models catch up to these efficiency standards now that CEE’s Tier 1 has become the federal minimum, Energy Star may revisit its criteria soon and up the ante. (For a listing of standards in all three CEE tiers, go to

And keep your eyes open for developments in water-cooled machines, and nugget and flaker units. As soon as a test method for these types of machines is available and a good size database is built, EPA plans to issue rating criteria for those new categories as well. AHRI recently updated and revised its test methods to include nugget and flake machines and is expected to have a new data set for EPA to consider by the end of the year or early next.

Visit for a full list of qualified models. “””

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