Energy Use in Ice Arenas


Energy use in ice arenas can be enormous. In fact, indoor ice rinks are some of the more energy intensive commercial buildings within a community.


Uses include: refrigeration (both NH3 and HFC), pumps, fans, heating and lighting



  • Ice arenas are used for: hockey, curling, figure skating, speed skating, and basic ice skating
  • Operates most of the year – long occupancy times to earn revenue – ice quality is critical
  • Water contaminants (such as minerals, chemicals, and dissolved air) affect the freezing temperature and quality – hardness, “snow” creation, clarity
  • From the ASRAE 2010 Handbook: “The resurfacing water temperature affects the load and brine required to freeze the flood water. Maintaining good water quality through proper treatment may permit the use of lower flood water temperature and less volume” <–- using cold water saves energy
  • Refrigeration cools a brine solution pumped through pipes under the ice grid
  • Brine temperatures that were usually set around 16°F – 17°F – can be set higher
  • Before REALice, hot water in the neighborhood of 160°F has been used to resurface the ice, heating hundreds of gallons of water, many times per day



Example Water and Typical Refrigeration

  • Typical single pad rinks can use from 1,500 – 2,400 MWH per year
  • NHL sized rink or Olympic size
  • Usage is typically 36+ weeks/year and used on average 16hrs/day on weekends,
  • 12 hours/ day week days
  • Ice resurfacing can vary from 6 to 12+ times per day depending on usage
  • Resurfacing typically uses water heated from 120°F -160°F
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