SEATTLE -- They’re everywhere. Big, bright vending machines, chilling those beverages 24 hours a day, seven days a week – whether anyone is around to use them or not.
For most people, vending machines are a nice convenience. For Seattle City Light, they are a conservation opportunity.
Enter VendingMiser™, a small device with a big payback. Installed on a machine, it powers down the lights , a small device with a big payback. Installed on a machine, it powers down the lights and compressor, in effect putting the machine into sleep mode, cutting energy use dramatically when the machine isn’t needed. And when a thirsty patron approaches the machine – presto! – motion sensors wake the machine up and get it ready to operate. The drinks are just as cold as they would have been otherwise, but it took a lot less energy to keep them that way.
How much less?
“VendingMiser™ cuts energy use about 35-40 percent,” said Lucie Huang, a business energy research specialist for Seattle City Light. “With 3,000 to 5,000 machines in our service territory, the conservation potential is significant.”
Significant enough, in fact, for City Light to install VendingMiser™ on every cold-drink machine in its service territory, at no charge to the customer.
Huang predicts that VendingMiser™ will save the utility at least 3,000 megawatt-hours per year. Using an estimate of $300 per megawatt-hour for market electricity, Huang said City Light’s savings could approach $1 million in the first year alone.
“Vending machines are powered continuously – every day, all day, all night. The average machine uses about 10 kilowatt-hours per day, but they can range anywhere from 7 to 14 kilowatt-hours per day, depending on the size.” Huang said. “Machines in office buildings, for example, are running all the time, including nights and weekends, even though no one is around.
“TheVendingMiser™ program will pay for itself in the first year, and we’ll continue to realize energy and cost savings in subsequent years,” Huang said.
Seattle City Councilmember Heidi Wills, chair of the Energy and Environmental Policy Committee, called VendingMiser™ a good example of new technologies that improve energy efficiency.
“Conservation doesn’t just mean turning things off or not using energy. It also means using energy as efficiently as possible,” Wills said. “We make this investment in VendingMiser™ today, and it continues to create energy savings for years and years. That’s energy we don’t have to generate or buy. Real cost savings is the power of conservation.”
Wills praised Pepsi Cola for already agreeing to install VendingMiser™ on the machines it owns and said she expected Coca-Cola to follow suit. Together, those two companies own about 80 percent of the cold-drink machines in City Light’s service territory. The utility also wants to work with independent cold-drink vending machine companies to reach 100 percent of the market.
“Programmatic conservation is more important than ever as part of City Light’s resource plan,” Wills said. “In fact, the utility is committed to doubling the amount of energy it acquires through conservation. Projects like VendingMiser™ will help us meet our goal.”
VendingMiser™ is manufactured by Bayview Technology Group Inc. of San Carlos, Calif.
Visit Vending Machine Energy Conservation on City Light's web site.