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checkOptimize ice machine water use.

All PIM content was independently developed and reviewed to be vendor-, product-, and service provider-neutral.


Monitoring and adjusting ice machines for optimum flow rates and cycle times can reduce the amount of water used to produce ice.

  • Project Talking Points

    • Hospitals account for 39 percent of all commercial ice-maker purchases.
    • Water-cooled ice machines require water for cooling in addition to the water required to produce ice. Water-cooled ice makers require less energy to operate, but on average they generate 100 gallons of waste cooling water per 100 pounds of ice produced. These models are now banned in several U.S. cities.
    • The typical icemaker uses two or three times more water than needed to make the ice we consume.
    • Monitoring and adjusting existing ice machines to produce an optimal amount of ice will reduce water and energy consumption.
    • Units that are more water-efficient also tend to be more energy-efficient.
  • Triple Bottom Line Benefits

    • Cost benefits: Reducing  potable water consumption reduces water and sewer costs.  Adjusting machines for optimal function may extend their life with regular maintenance.
    • Environmental benefits: Reduced water use by switching from water- to air-cooled machines. Selecting the most energy efficient air-cooled machine will minimize the increase in energy use.
    • Health and safety: Saving money on wasteful and unnecessary tasks saves resources that can be used to accomplish the real mission of the hospital. Water conservation is connected to environmental stewardship and healthy communities.
    • Quality and outcomes - Metrics are in development. If you have suggestions, please  contact us or participate in the discussion below.

  • Purchasing Considerations

    If you have suggestions for purchasing considerations, or suggested sample contract language for any product or contracted service, please participate in the discussion below.

  • How-To

    1. Monitor and track ice machine output compared to actual use.
      • Implement processes to monitor machine output  on a regular basis.
      • Measure water consumption using small turbine or electronic (sonic) flow meters.
      • Meter information should be fed to an electronic data logger. 
    2. If output is greater than actual use, consult your machine operating manual for methods of adjusting machine to dispense less ice.
    3. If possible, stop dispensing ice during periods of no use (e.g., late night hours). Review usage data and check with users and staff. Many machines have built-in timing and scheduling functions. If not, consult the manufacturer for time clock integration options.
    4. Check incoming water pressure and adjust it to the lower end of the manufacturer’s listed operating range. Verify with the manufacturer that lower range settings will not affect the ice dispenser release function.
    5. If your machine is equipped with filters, confirm that incoming water filters are fully functional.
    6. If incoming water quality is acceptable, water use can be lowered by adjusting the water purge time setting on many ice machines. However, this must be done by equipment manufacturer personnel.
    1.  Replacing water-cooled ice machines with air-cooled machines will increase energy use but decrease water use. An air-cooled machine will also emit more heat into the room where it is located. In most cases, the additional warm air does not present a problem and the additional energy consumption is minimal. If, however, the heat presents a problem, a remote air-cooled ice machine can be used.
    1. If you replace a water-cooled with air-cooled machine, you should research and purchase the most energy-efficient model available (see Resources below).
    2. If your organization provides chilled water in its facilities yearround, verify with the ice machine manufacturer that water-cooled equipment can work with a chilled water system. If connecting ice machines to the existing chilled water system, verify that existing system capacity allows for extra load(s) to be added. Verify ice machine heat load requirements with the manufacturer.
  • Tools

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  • Regulations, Codes and Standards, Policies

  • Cross References: LEED

  • Cross References: GGHC

    • Operations: Facilities Management Credit FM 2.1-2.5 Potable Water Use Reduction: Total Building Reduction
    • Operations: Facilities Management Credit FM 4.1 Building Operations & Maintenance: Staff Education
  • Cross References: EEP

    • The water efficiency of most ice machines can be obtained by downloading the “Certified Automatic Commercial Ice Makers Directory” from the Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute at
  • PIM Synergies

  • Education Resources

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  • More Resources

  • PIM Descriptors


    Level: Intermediate

    Category List:

    • Food Services
    • WATER

    PIM Attributes:

    • Basic Device Upgrades
    • Optimize Operations

    Improvement Type:

    • Maintenance
    • Retrofit


    • Food & Dining Services
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