An Ecomonitor energy survey of Mace Victoria Dock shows that owner Perry has good awareness of his energy usage, but a few small changes could save him more money. Sarah Britton reports

While there’s nothing you can do to stop the price of energy spiralling, by closely monitoring and managing the areas you can control, such as energy consumption and which supplier and tariff you choose, you can make a big difference to your energy bills.

Sanmugalingam Pirapakaran (aka Perry), who is taking part in Unilever’s Partners for Growth mentoring scheme, is on a mission to improve his store’s performance. So on the advice of the firm’s Retailer Advisory Panel, he decided to review his energy usage.

He invited Ecomonitor’s Brian O’Hagan to look at where improvements could be made in reducing energy consumption.

First, O’Hagan asked to see Perry’s energy bill to analyse whether or not he was getting a fair deal. Perry explained that he had signed a three-year fixed contract with British Gas back in May and currently pays £287 a month. He is being charged on a daily flat rate of 10.17p per kWh.

“Bearing in mind that Perry is consuming 28,000 units a year and that energy prices are going up, I think it was a good decision to sign a fixed contract,” says O’Hagan. “Perry may have been better off getting a day/night rate as this may have saved another 2% or so, but he has nothing major to worry about. Fixed pricing not only provides stability in terms of budgeting and control, but it will also provide a sound base number to compare against, should Perry decide to invest in more energy-saving technology in the future.

“The ability to calculate and measure return on investment over the long term is easier when you are able to measure against stable energy price tariffs.”

Lighting was the next area for O’Hagan to address. Perry bought new T5 fluorescent tubes 18 months ago at a cost of £800, but the investment has already saved him £100. “Perry has made a sensible investment in energy-efficient T5 lighting, which is a good, cost-effective approach for a store of this size,” points out O’Hagan. “LED lighting would have delivered greater savings, but the cost of purchase is higher. Weighing up the benefits, he has done the right thing here.”

Refrigeration can account for up to 60% of a c-store’s total electricity consumption, so O’Hagan was keen to examine Perry’s chillers. He was pleased to see that Perry’s sandwich and dairy chillers were fitted with plastic strips to keep the refrigerated air from spilling onto the shop floor and helping to make his refrigeration work more efficiently. “These types of slats aren’t the most attractive, but they work well in Perry’s store as he keeps them clean and they are an ideal low-cost option compared with more expensive chiller doors,” says O’Hagan. “He should think about fitting these to his soft drinks chillers to reduce costs even further.”

Perry says that the strips cost £800, but have been worth the investment. “Customers complained when I first installed them, but they soon got used to them, and the energy savings make a big difference,” he said.

Another energy consumer, notes O’Hagan, is the chiller bulbs, which get warm when in use and so the chiller has to work harder to stay cool. “Perry may wish to consider replacing them with LEDs. These will be up to 60% more energy efficient.”

A quick temperature check of Perry’s alcohol chiller highlights another area for action. “Perry’s chiller temperatures are too low. They are running at 1-2°C when they could quite happily do the job at 6-7°C. This would save a good deal of energy,” asserts O’Hagan. “He does switch them off at night, though, which is excellent.”

The last piece of advice O’Hagan offers Perry is to use his electricity smart meter more effectively. “This records his electricity use 48 times a day and can be a great asset.”

Ecomonitor will be working with Perry to help him analyse the data more carefully and target further areas in which he can save both energy and money.

“I’m pleased I’ve been doing things right on the whole, but I’m keen to learn where I can make extra savings,” Perry concludes.

If you would like an energy survey of your store, contact Ecomonitor at, or telephone: 0845 680 9939. •

Energy-saving ideas

If you are looking to save money on your business electricity and gas, then why not head to the National Convenience Show at Birmingham NEC on Tuesday, April 16. Brian O’Hagan from Ecomonitor, along with an energy expert from N-power and a selection of retailers will be running a panel discussion on ways to make your shop as energy efficient as possible. To register to visit the show for free, go to www.national