Dick Hatchik, owner, Merrifield Vending, Inc., Chantilly, Va., wasn't sure what to do when two federal accounts said they had been mandated to use only Energy Star machines. They needed Hatchik to change the 25 or 30 machines at their locations by fall of the following year.
He learned he could become an Energy Star approved vendor and rebuild his existing machines. Energy Star is the Environmental Protection Agency's energy conservation program. Hatchik received information that included the measurements he would need from each machine to be Energy Star compliant.
"It required so much detailed work," explained Hatchik, "that we had to drop our ideas on converting older machines to Energy Star compliance. We decided that we would just buy machines from companies that certified that their machines were Energy Star."
Swapping Old for New
The big relief for Hatchik came when the government agencies he'd been working with agreed to allow him to replace machines a little at a time with new Energy Star machines, avoiding a major and pricey conversion.
Most of his bottlers have complied with his requests for Energy Star machines. Hatchik is currently terminating relationships with those bottlers who won't comply.
Hatchik is sure if he had not agreed to change the equipment needed to comply with the mandate to go Energy Star, the locations would have found another vendor.
"I recently got a call from one of the local counties here in Virginia, and they were trying to find a vendor that would give them all vending machines that were Energy Star," said Hatchik.
However, since most of his machines are not yet Energy Star rated, he was forced to decline, although he doesn't know if any local vendor could comply with the request.
"I think the Energy Star equipment is here to stay, and when I look for any new equipment to purchase, it better be Energy Star certified," concluded Hatchik.
Hatchik's situation illustrates the issues operators are experiencing with energy consumption. In East Hartford, Conn., the town council is spending $5 million to upgrade heating, lighting and power systems in 18 public buildings, which includes refrofitting vending machines with the occupant-detecting device, VendingMiser, from USA Technologies Inc.
According to Shawn Shaw, an analyst at The Cadmus Group Inc., a consulting firm that helps address challenges in the environmental and energy sector, locations are seeking energy savings in vending banks not because of the percent of total energy consumption the machines use, but because vending is a very visible source of consumption and simple to cut.
For example, a typical laboratory building might use 8 million kilowatts of energy a year. The 20 or so vending machines at the facility would only use 80,000 kilowatts. Vending machines are a large load item, said Shaw, but they don't require a major building installation/adjustment, as a lighting system would. With one call to the vending company, there's an immediate savings, and the savings in energy and money adds up.
Save energy in Vending Machines
Still in its infancy, energy saving devices for vending are beneficial to operators facing requests from locations looking for savings with as few steps as possible. Universities and large corporations have been among the first to look at this.
A typical vending machine uses more energy than seven residential refrigerators, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Current energy saving devices are reported to save 35 to 45 percent for refrigerated beverage and snack/beverage combo machines. One drawback is this equipment cannot be used in machines that dispense perishable food.
According to both Energy Star and USA Technologies, the reduced energy consumption can result in a $150 savings per machine per year. There are also rebates available by many utilities to the locations installing the devices.