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The Angel of the Winds Arena in Everett, WA, is an entertainment destination with twin ice pads and is the home and practice ice for the local major junior hockey team. The facility’s operations team is proficient at event-to-hockey conversions from singers and bands to home shows and monster trucks. The practice pad is always busy however, there are long breaks where the stadium ice sits idle, sometimes for hours or days at a time. During these times, the ice plant continues working to maintain the ice temperature. Every time the compressors are used for “idle” ice, the arena is burning money.

Brian Skow came up with an idea to cover the ice with a thermal blanket to keep the cold in, and the warm out.  Skow turned to us at Innovative Insulation in Arlington, Texas, to supply him with enough Tempshield Double Bubble Foil to cover the ice. In January of 2014, they began covering the ice with the foil blanket (total cost of $4,000) and began tracking what happened with the ice plant. Four months later, their energy savings had already covered the costs for the foil blanket.

Radiant barriers and reflective insulation are a 70-year-old idea that was blocked for years from gaining an edge in the marketplace. The large deep pocket insulation manufacturers of fiberglass, rockwool and cellulose offerings were protecting their markets. Soliciting the help of lobbyists and construction organizations, they were successful at keeping the pesky radiant barrier manufacturers from grabbing much of their market share. This changed thanks to America’s involvement in the space race.

Beginning with the Gemini program, NASA developed radiant barriers to protect the equipment and personnel who had to face temperature swings of more than 500°C. They turned to aluminum foil’s reflective properties to prevent flash-freezing or the melting of their rockets, on-board instrumentation, and space and moon-walking astronauts. Soon, architects and engineers caught on. Universities and government organizations studied and confirmed the claims and today radiant barrier and reflective insulation are construction standards.

Below are a few graphs showing the costs.

Each downward slope equals about $9.00/hour. The second graph shows that over a 12-hour period, the uncovered sheet ran its part of the system for around 6 hours (or about $54.00). The covered sheet, ran just over 2.5 hours, costing just $22.50 which, is a 58% reduction in energy costs.
There are other factors to consider apart from energy savings. Less equipment run time means less wear and tear and extended maintenance intervals. Any time you save 3.5 hours of run time over a 12-hour period, you are pushing scheduled maintenance further down the calendar. Additionally, there are personnel costs to consider as well.

Skow says the foil blanket takes about 20 minutes for 2 people to lay down and about 30 minutes for 2 people to pick up. For his facility, he needs a 12-hour coverage block to make the set up and tear down cost effective. “If the ice sheet has a full day or multiple days of idle time, it’s well worth using the foil,” he says. When the foil is all rolled up, it can easily be stored on 2 carts.

These photos show Tempshield radiant barrier bubble installation for the ceiling of the ice rink. In this application, the radiant barrier is keeping the heat from the roof out of the rink. The white side of the barrier is perfect for the finished side of the ceiling.

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