"Rinks don't need to be money pits" – Colleen O'Shea


The Ice Rink Optimization Handbook

Chart showing an ice rink's energy use

Ice Rink Energy Use - SaskPower

Are you looking for ways to save your indoor ice rink some money?

The Saskatchewan utility company, SaskPower, has put together a terrific downloadable handbook that examines a wide variety of ways you can cut down on your rink’s expenses. Although it’s written for Saskatchewan rinks, with winter climates that can take the thermometer to -40°C (-40°F) and to +40°C (104°F) in the summer, Operating Efficient Ice Rinks contains suggestions and best practices that any rink operator could benefit knowing about.

…hockey arenas and curling rinks are often the hub of the community, however, they are also expensive facilities to operate.

SaskPower – Operating Efficient Ice Rinks

From the ice plant to the thickness of the ice, shower heads to occupancy sensors, this brochure does a great job explaining options and making suggestions of how to save energy and run your rink more efficiently.

SaskPower takes a look at all the energy used in a typical ice rink, and put those numbers into a chart. I was surprised to see that space heating accounts for 61% of a typical ice rink’s energy use – but again, heating the stands, foyer, eating areas and dressing rooms are certainly necessary when the weather is freezing cold outside. Here is their chart:

Chart showing an ice rink's energy use

Ice Rink Energy Use – SaskPower


As well as this chart, SaskPower cites other costs (quoted in Canadian dollars, and based on a 6-month operating year). For example, there are four different brine pump control methods which go from variable speed drive (expensive but uses the least energy) to constant operation (inexpensive but energy intensive). The choice of brine pump controls can make a huge difference to the energy costs, from a high of 81,654 kWh to a low of 34,295 kWh – a cost savings of $3,350 a season.

Match Slab Temperature to Usage

SaskPower points out that the temperature of the ice slab is often set to a conservative number that will work even under the most extreme of conditions. But taking a “Set and Forget” attitude means you’re wasting energy — keeping it super cold overnight, for example, when no one is there.  They’ve developed a usage chart that you can refer to that deals with those dead hours – and active times too. If you move your slab temperature from -5.5°C (22°F) to -3°C (27°F), you can achieve an energy savings of 10%?

Slab Thickness Counts, Too

“Nice and thick” may appeal to steak lovers, but for the thickness of ice, too thick just means a waste of energy. SaskPower has a chart that shows the energy savings you’ll have reducing your ice’s thickness from 2″ down to 1″ — which can mean an additional $300 in avoided costs EACH MONTH.

Back to that 61%

The greatest part of an ice rink’s energy consumption – 61% – means one-fifth of an ice rink’s expense. Finding ways to minimize that cost is imperative, and SaskPower has recommendations for four different types of heating: local heating, central furnace, fresh air system and hot air circulation.

The brochure ends with a handy checklist, and some good tips (like putting a 1″ marker on the boards at the beginning of the year.

Check it out. It’s a valuable tool that can give you ideas of how to run your rink better.


1 Comment

  1. Art Stutsman

    Hey Colleen – any difference in environmental impact in having a sand floor vs. cement floor under the ice (aside from up front build cost savings of course) I would think cement would retain cold better in the winter, on the good side, but retain heat more in the warmer months…on the bad side? Just curious…..this may be another drill down to consider in your impact analysis.

    All of this being said….I am thinking soccer is the way to go so all we are killing is some grass!!!!


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