The Energy-Efficient Benefits of Using a Chiller in Cold Weather

Businesses operating in cooler temperatures may be missing out on an opportunity to boost air compressor efficiency and profits.

Air compressors generate considerable heat, and chillers are widely used to prevent overheating and failure in water-cooled equipment. However, since air compressor chillers are typically associated with maintaining a moderate temperature in warm climates, they are often overlooked as a valuable tool in cold weather situations. 

This blog post will explain why using a chiller in cold weather is energy efficient, environmentally responsible, and cost-effective. 

How Do Chillers Work in Cold Weather?

Using an air compressor chiller in the colder months may seem counterintuitive, but it is just as important as in warmer months. 

During cold weather, an air compressor chiller capitalizes on cooler ambient temperatures to efficiently regulate the temperature of compressed air. However, internal temperatures rise as equipment draws in and compresses the cold ambient air. Chillers rely on five main components to accurately maintain and manage water-cooled equipment through precise, temperature-controlled fluid.

The Evaporator

  • The evaporator is where the cooling effect takes place. Its main function is to absorb heat from the fluid to reduce its temperature. One of the most common evaporators is a tube in tube or shell in tube system. 
  • Process fluid (such as water or a water-glycol solution) circulates through these tubes and flows over another tube or shell. 
  • Heat from the compressor causes the refrigerant to start evaporating and move from a liquid state to a gaseous state.

The Compressor

  • Following the evaporator, the now-vaporized refrigerant enters the compressor, which varies in type and range of power.
  • The compressor acts to increase the pressure and the temperature of the refrigerant gas.
  • By compressing the refrigerant into high-pressure gas, the compressor moves the refrigerant through the system and adds energy to the refrigeration cycle.

The Condenser (Water-Cooled Chillers)

  • After the refrigerant is compressed, it flows into the condenser.
  • The condenser facilitates the removal of heat from the refrigerant by allowing it to cool and transfer the absorbed heat to the surroundings.
  • As the refrigerant cools down, it condenses from a gas back into a liquid form.

The Expansion Unit

  • The liquid refrigerant, still under high pressure after leaving the condenser, then passes through an expansion valve or device.
  • The expansion device reduces the refrigerant’s pressure rapidly and controls how much refrigerant flows between the condenser and evaporator. 
  • Refrigerant then re-enters the evaporator to absorb more heat from the process fluid, and the cycle repeats.

The Refrigerant

  • Lastly, the component that moves throughout this system (the refrigerant) is a chemical compound with properties that allow it to change state at relatively low temperatures.
  • Refrigerants are chosen based on their environmental impact, efficiency, safety, and physical properties. Compressor qualities such as capacity, charge volume, and operational temperatures also contribute to refrigerant choice. 
  • Refrigerant conducts the heat exchange process by absorbing and releasing heat as it circulates through the chiller system, completing the refrigeration cycle.

All these components work together harmoniously in a continuous loop to remove heat generated by your compressor’s process.

A Break Down of Benefits

Chiller offers many benefits that can result in economic and operational advantages for industries relying on compressed air systems. Here are some key advantages:

Cost Savings 

According to Gardner Denver, the operation of costly cooling water systems is one of the most wasteful procedures found in industry today. Water purchase, sewer discharge, EPA regulations, chemical treatment and maintenance are some of the high operating costs associated with most systems.

A chiller recirculates its cooling fluid in a closed-loop system, which means that less water is wasted compared to a system that continually uses and discharges city water. Sewer charges associated with industrial water usage have also seen an increase in recent years. Chillers cut down on these operating costs by relying on an electrical closed-circuit operation to heat and cool the same cycle of water or refrigerant. 

Gardner Denver Water vs Electricity Usage Chart

Chart Provided by Gardner Denver

Temperature Control

Process fluid chillers offer precise temperature control. Highly accurate control of water temperature guarantees stable operating conditions and rapid adaptation to abrupt variations in load. City water temperatures can fluctuate with the seasons, which can affect production quality and lead to inefficiencies. 

By maintaining precise temperature control, chillers operate under optimal conditions and minimize energy consumption. Temperature control also prevents energy wastage through overcooling or the need for extra cycles due to inconsistent temperatures.

Enhanced Efficiency 

Air compressors generate a lot of heat while compressing air. Without a chiller, water-cooled systems rely on a continuous flow of city water to reduce thermal stress. Chillers counteract this inefficiency by recycling fluid in a closed loop system to reduce water consumption, energy usage, and sewage costs. Accessories and upgrade options, including energy-saving features such as variable frequency drives (VFDs), can be added to adjust power consumption to match the cooling demand. 


Process chillers are designed to handle various heat loads from various industries. Equipment is often fully customizable with options such as:

  • Chiller packages for your 40-70 degrees F systems
  • .6 to 100 ton chiller packages 
  • Larger engineered packages
  • Scroll compressors
  • Electronic expansion thermostatic valve
  • Separated compressor compartment with removable panels
  • Refrigerant high and low pressure gauges
  • Free-cooling versions
  • Heating options for cold weather fluctuations 

Customization offers businesses the ability to tailor cooling solutions to their specific industrial needs and specifications. Businesses can also drive long-term cost savings and avoid inefficiencies associated with one-size-fits-all units by aligning their exact cooling demands with their process.

Regulatory Compliance

Some areas may have regulations that limit the use of city water due to drought conditions or water conservation efforts. A closed-loop circuit helps companies comply with these restrictions and stay within the guidelines of regulatory compliance.

Industries, like pharmaceuticals, have strict regulations governing sterile water systems. Chillers ensure water-cooled systems adhere to quality standards and contribute to a reliable manufacturing process that is compliant with health and safety regulations. While some industries require the sterile treatment of water, we do suggest filtering the water in all chillers to prevent corrosion, contaminant buildup, and damage to your unit.

Environmental Impact

An air compressor chiller is a cost-effective and environmentally friendly solution for businesses of all sizes. Chillers help reduce water wastage by recycling the same water or refrigerant through a closed-circuit operation. They also optimize the performance of air compressors to ensure that they do not exert more energy than required, resulting in lower electricity bills and a smaller carbon footprint. 

Winter is Here, but Your Compressor Will Be Ready

A chiller supports water-cooled systems in functioning at peak efficiency, regardless of the climate conditions. By regulating fluid temperature, your system can operate within a broader temperature range. 

At Air Handling Equipment, we specialize in providing high-quality air compressor chiller and fluid cooler solutions for businesses across various industries. Our partnerships with Gardner Denver and Thermal Precision brands provide maximum energy efficiency and performance to keep your operations running smoothly. We help businesses determine the best solution to protect their compressed air equipment and bottom line.

With office locations in Sidney, Loveland, and Gahanna, Air Handling Equipment has provided compressed air system solutions to the Midwestern and Southern Ohio markets since 1977. This includes proudly serving the greater Cincinnati, Columbus, Dayton, Lima, and Findlay, Ohio areas. For questions about our selection of used air compressors, call one of our locations or fill out our online contact form, and someone from our team will get back to you as soon as possible.