Most vending machines, especially refrigerated beverage machines, waste a lot of electricity because they use more than is needed to keep the products cold and operate the lights. Businesses can save money and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by replacing their vending machines with models that waste less electricity.
Electricity Use of Conventional Machines
Conventional machines use 3,000 to 4,000 kilowatt hours (kWh) per year. Energy use varies depending on whether the machines are used outdoors, how warm the climate is and the size of the machines.
Energy Star Machines
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Energy encourage reducing electricity waste by awarding an Energy Star to appliances that meet certain requirements for low energy use. For vending machines, Energy Star units use about 1,450 kWh/year--less than half the electricity that conventional machines do--so they waste less.
Ways to Reduce Waste
Vending machines waste less electricity when they use more efficient technologies for the compressors, fan motors and lighting systems. In addition, the machines can reduce waste by including software that cycles them to low power mode during low-use times, such as at night. These machines have been tested and operate as effectively as standard machines.
In August 2009, the Department of Energy passed vending machine regulations that require new energy-saving levels by 2012. The new standards will require that all refrigerated beverage vending machines waste less electricity by using no more than about 1,400 to 1,800 kWh per year.
Benefits of Reducing Waste Electricity
DOE estimates that the 30-year electricity savings resulting from the new requirements will equal the energy used by 830,000 households in one year. Greenhouse gas emission reductions over the same period will equal the amount produced by about 2 million cars in a year.
Under the regulations, the most common type of new vending machine will cost about $250 more to purchase and maintain and will save an average of $69 per year in energy costs, so the expected payback time for the machines will be four years. The Energy Star machines are estimated to save between $153 and $213 in energy costs per year.
Vending Machine Contracts
Most businesses have a multiyear contract with a vending machine owner/operator. The best way to obtain machines that waste less electricity is to work with the machine operator to phase them in under the contract or provide them when the contract expires.