An energy audit of Walter Bush’s store identified potential savings of 25%. Npower is offering six other readers a free energy audit.

Just think of all the extra stock you could buy, or the improvements you could make to your store, if your energy bills were to fall by a quarter. It’s a question Warwickshire retailer Walter Bush could soon be asking himself, after an energy audit of his Baginton Village Store identified a number of simple energy-saving measures that combined could shave more than 25% off his energy bill.

With the cost of gas and electricity having risen steadily since he took over the store in 2006, Walter had already been paying close attention to his energy consumption. However, with warnings of further steep price hikes to come, the time was right to identify where further savings could be achieved. Fortunately, Npower energy efficiency expert Andrew Fletcher was on hand to help.

Keeping a lid on costs

“Energy use and costs are a major issue for small businesses such as mine, particularly when it comes to lighting and refrigeration, which we are looking to extend,” Walter says. “Over the past few years we have been trying to reduce our energy consumption where possible, by having a strict policy of turning lights off in back rooms when not in use and generally keeping an eye on what energy we are consuming, but there’s always more that can be done.”

Quite a number of things, in fact, as the energy audit of the 900sq ft store revealed. Lighting was the first area to target, where savings of between 40% and 70% were immediately identified, should 85% of the store’s inefficient fluorescent tubes be replaced with modern energy-efficient alternatives such as T5 fluorescent lamps.

The upgrade, Fletcher explained, could be done without having to replace the existing light fittings. This would cost £1,600, with a further £350 to install automatic occupancy control lights. The investment would be paid back via energy bill savings in just under three years, he added.

The store’s ceiling-mounted air-conditioning units were pinpointed as the second major quick win. Raising the store’s temperature from its cool 18°C to 21°C would reduce energy consumption by 9%, Andrew explained.

Further savings of 30% to 50% could also be made on refrigeration by installing devices that detect when the business is closed, and switching unnecessary equipment off when not in use, such as the drinks chillers at night.

Andrew also drew Walter’s attention to voltage optimisation equipment, which could help the store’s lighting and tills better cope with voltage spikes, which had been causing some fittings to fail ahead of their expected lifetime.

“Voltage spikes can be caused by a number of external factors relating to the UK power grid, and are an increasingly common issue for small businesses,” Andrew explained. “The voltage running through your mains power supply varies for a number of reasons. For example, when demand on the grid is high, the voltage will fall. Alternately, when demand on the grid falls, the voltage can rise. These spikes can affect all electrical equipment, including lighting, CCTV and tills, causing them to fail prematurely.”

Voltage optimisation equipment can help to avoid these risks, and reduce energy consumption by about 10%, Andrew pointed out.

Walter concluded: “As sustainability becomes more of a concern for our customers, and overheads continue to rise, anything we can do to reduce the environmental impact of the business and reduce energy costs has got to be a good thing.” •



Achieve savings of your own with a free energy audit

As part of Npower’s involvement in Convenience Store’s Pay Less, Use Less campaign, the energy company is offering six readers their very own energy audit. Plus, one lucky store will be selected to benefit from recommended energy-saving measures and see the savings add up for their business.

It’s simple to enter - just tell us in no more than 75 words why your store should qualify for a free energy audit.

Npower is currently working with more than 10,000 small businesses to help them save money through its bespoke range of products and services, including energy audits.

Energy audits provide valuable insight into how energy is used on-site, often revealing areas of waste and where savings can be made. Just a few simple changes can reduce energy bills by up to 10% and a small investment in energy efficiency measures can achieve savings of up to 20%.

“Our audits provide retailers with real visibility over their energy use and illustrate where savings can be made,” Npower SME sales and marketing director Phil Scholes said. 
“I’d encourage readers to enter as it’s a great opportunity to receive expert energy saving advice specifically for their business.”

To find out more about Npower, visit

To enter, contact Gaelle Walker at Convenience Store with details about your story, including your annual gas and electricity usage.

Email her at, or write to her at Convenience Store, William Reed Business Media, Broadfield Park, Crawley, West Sussex RH11 9RT.


Terms & Conditions

1.       The competition is open to UK residents aged 18 or over except employees of the promoter, their families, agents or anyone professionally connected with the promotion.

2.      No applications from agents, third parties, organised groups or applications automatically generated by a computer will be accepted. No incomplete or corrupted entries will be accepted. Entries not in accordance with the entry instructions will not be accepted.

3.       Closing date for entries is June 28 2013.

4.       Promotion limited to one entry per person. No entrant may win more than one prize.

5.       The prize: The lucky winner will receive a site energy audit.

6.       The winner will be required to attend a photoshoot and interview to be featured within Convenience Store magazine for no further compensation.

7.       Entrants will be selected against set criteria to qualify for the prize and chosen by npower and Convenience Store.

8.       The designated criteria will take into account the retailer story being submitted. For more details on the selection process please email

9.   The winner will be chosen by July 5 2013. All reasonable effort will be made to contact winners, however, if a winner cannot be contacted within 7 days an alternative winner may be chosen.

10.   The winners will be required to participate in publicity arising from this promotion to be featured within Convenience Store magazine for no further compensation.

11.   The promoter reserves the right to terminate, amend or extend this promotion in wholly exceptional circumstances outside its control.

12.   By entering the promotion, all entrants will be deemed to have accepted and be bound by the rules and consent to the transfer of their personal data to the Data Controller for the purposes of the administration of this promotion and any other purposes to which the entrant has consented. All entry instructions form part of the rules.

13.   The promoter will not share your details with any other organisation but would like to contact you with other brand information regarding npower products, services and so on.

14.   These terms and conditions shall be governed by English Law and the courts of England and Wales shall have jurisdiction.

Promoter and Data Controller: npower, SME Campaigns & Propositions, 2 Princes Way, Solihull, West Midlands, B91 3ES (Do not send entries to this address)