If you needed further proof that energy efficiency really can save you big bucks and help the planet in the process, Andrew Thornton’s latest reinvention of his Belsize Park Budgens store is it.

A four-pronged attack on energy wastage has enabled Andrew to reduce the London store’s carbon footprint by a staggering 43.3%, saving him an estimated £20,000 a year.

“I wasn’t a stranger to energy efficiency, having undertaken a similar project at my Crouch End store last summer which resulted in a 31% reduction in my carbon footprint,” Andrew explains. “However, I was determined to go one step further at Belsize Park so I used some key learnings from Crouch End and added some cutting-edge technology.”

How he did it

What Andrew calls “basic housekeeping” accounted for just over 10% of the decline. Simple tricks such as installing sensors in back-room areas to ensure that lights extinguish when not required played a key role, as did better refrigeration maintenance, and heightened staff awareness of energy usage. “As ever, when you begin to monitor something, usage tends to drop,” he adds.

Retro-fitting doors on to the store’s fresh produce chillers also played a big part, with payback on this investment expected in less than five years. The installation of more energy-efficient ovens for hot food-to-go preparation also played a part.

It was the installation of cutting-edge LED lighting that helped Andrew take savings to a new level. Unlike the Crouch End store - which, incidentally, was the first supermarket in the UK to fit chiller doors - at Belsize Park, LED light technology has been installed across all of the fresh, checkout and post office sections. The general grocery aisles have been fitted with energy-efficient tubes, but Andrew says it won’t be long before this too is converted to LED. “The LED lighting market has made huge leaps in the past nine months alone, and what we’ve installed is really cutting edge. My fears of the lights emitting a strange blue glow have been totally swept away, and the quality of the lighting is far superior to what we had before. I really hope that these new lights will change perceptions of the LED market, which hasn’t always received the best press,” he adds.

Andrew is communicating the changes to shoppers wherever he can. “Lights are tricky, but we’ve put signs on the chiller doors to explain the benefits. Retailers concerned that doors could deter sales should also note that comparative sales data from my Crouch End store proves that this is not the case.”

Adds Andrew: “I’m committed to a more sustainable future, and if I can save money along the way then all the better. There’s always something more that can be done when it comes to being more efficient and reducing your carbon footprint, and even now I have more ideas up my sleeve.

“Being energy efficient requires constant monitoring and tweaking, as technology in this sector is evolving all the time. It’s the same with energy suppliers and contracts - we track prices all of the time. These days you simply can’t afford to take your eye off the ball.”