Caltech's High-Efficiency Freezer Program provides substantial energy and cost savings by reducing electricity consumption. New high-efficiency ultra-low-temperature (ULT) freezers use about two-thirds less energy than inefficient ones: 7–9 kWh/day versus 20–24 kWh/day respectively. The program incentivizes both the purchase and replacement of freezers.
- Replacing a low-efficiency ULT freezer (-80°F) yields an estimated average rebate of $5,000–$8,500.
- Purchasing a high-efficiency ULT freezer for a new laboratory or space yields an estimated average rebate of $2,000–$5,000.
In addition, Caltech research laboratories and Caltech Sustainability are collaborating to verify the success and benefits of a -70 degree Celsius rather than a -80 set point in new and old ULT freezers. See their initial findings in this case study.
Interested in an ultra-low-temperature freezer rebate? Please apply using this Google doc.
- An inefficient ULT freezer at Caltech uses one-third more electricity than an average California household (about 24 kWh / day versus about 18 kWh / day, respectively).
- 1.3 inefficient ULT freezers at Caltech produce the same carbon emissions as an average U.S. passenger vehicle.
With 30 percent energy savings for a new freezer and with no impact on samples, I'll use a -70 set point for all of my ULT freezers. Plus, I'll highlight this more sustainable alternative during my lab classes, helping to expand this practice where appropriate. But data for the older freezer was the real eye opener. Clearly, Caltech's freezer rebate program is critical for the Institute to dramatically reduce the carbon footprint of ULT freezers.
How Are Rebates Calculated?
The availability and size of rebates depend on verified electricity savings, current utility rates, and funding availability.
For freezer replacement, rebates are derived from the difference between the published energy usage of the new high-efficiency freezer and the measured electricity consumption of the existing freezer.
For the purchase of new freezers in new laboratories and spaces, rebates are derived from the difference between published energy usage for the new, high-efficiency model and electricity consumption of an equivalent standard freezer model.
Rebates are calculated using the current accepted utility cost of electricity per kWh, as established by Caltech Facilities.
|Low efficiency||Standard efficiency||High efficiency|
|Models||Revco, New Brunswick, Thermo Fisher||Panasonic, Thermo Fisher||Stirling, Thermo TSX, Eppendorf|
|Electrical demand (kWh/day)||20–24||16–18||7–9|
|Cost||N/A||$8,000–$9,000||$11,500–$13,000 (with vendor discount), list prices $16,000–$22,000|