An energy audit of retailer Anjali Karpal’s store in West Sussex turned up some electrifying results
Energy. You can’t see it, but you sure as hell can feel it when the bills take a chunk out of your bottom line every year.
However, like many of the costs that the modern day retailer faces, energy is one that can be controlled and significantly reduced - sometimes by as much as 60% - when simple housekeeping measures are combined with a better energy deal.
It’s a lesson that Anjali Karpal was only too happy to learn when Convenience Store and Utilities Direct conducted an energy audit at her store in East Grinstead, West Sussex.
Despite the fact that Anjali was already pretty switched on when it came to keeping her energy usage in check, energy auditor Neil Bland still managed to identify simple in-store tweaks that could shave thousands off her annual energy bill, and probably yours, too.
● Turn computer monitors off rather than in screensaver or standby mode
● Avoid keeping heating and air conditioning from being on at the same time. Try to heat your shop to 19°C and cooled to 23°C. This means for a lot of the spring and autumn, neither should be on. Turn off door air curtains when the doors are shut. If you have night blinds use them
● Turn bake-off ovens off when not in use
● Try to keep all fridge, freezers and air conditioning units well maintained as they will run more efficiently - just like your car
● Freezers that are iced up won’t run efficiently. Use the winter months to move stock out of one and into another so that the freezer can be defrosted, or condense your stock down
● Energy saving posters for use in retail stores are available from www.carbontrust.com.
With refrigeration accounting for about 40% of the average convenience store’s energy consumption, Anjali’s chillers were Neil’s first port of call.
Anjali’s store boasts a 4m open refrigerated display cabinet for chilled groceries, as well as two Coca-Cola branded soft drinks chillers, and a 2m alcoholic drinks chiller, which Neil immediately recommended Anjali switch off overnight.
“First thing in the morning isn’t usually a peak time for alcoholic drinks sales and those customers who buy alcoholic beverages first thing in the morning will probably not care too much if they are not ice cold,” said Neil. “This means you can turn the alcohol fridge off 30 minutes before you shut, and not need to turn it on until 10am, leading to a saving of up to £550 per year,” he added.
As Anjali doesn’t have doors on her chillers, Neil also recommended using night blinds on her perishable goods fridges. The blinds keep cold air inside the chiller and could save a further £300 a year.
“Another tip that can make a huge difference to chiller function, and energy bills, is to insure that fridge grills are kept clear of any POS, clip-strips or products,” Neil pointed out. “You’d be surprised how many retailers don’t realise this. If products are placed, or fall, across the grills the fridge will have to work 15% harder, and send cold air into the shop making it an unpleasant environment. Perishable products being placed over the grills and not properly inside the chillers can also be dangerous as they won’t be cold enough, leading to products going off and increased shrinkage,” he added.
Neil also recommended using LED bulbs in Anjali’s chillers, where they are most economical, although he advised against fitting them throughout the store unless she was considering a full refit. He did, however, recommend that she replace her energy guzzling T8 fluorescent lamps to T5s.
While on the subject of lighting, Neil also suggested that Anjali switch off all in-store lights on bright days. “Anjali’s store lets in lots of natural light so it’s advisable to switch the lights off on bright days as customers will barely notice the difference. Leaving lights on every day during daylight hours would waste about £175 per year,” he added.
The small strip lights that surround the tobacco gantry, or “goalpost” as it’s known in the trade, was another area of concern. Switching this off at night could save another £70, a figure that Anjali was more than a little taken aback by.
“The audit has been really beneficial - it’s reassured me that many of the things I was doing are right. However, it’s also drawn my attention to other areas that I wasn’t aware of, such as making sure that price stickers and bottles don’t cover the chiller air grills, and turning off the tobacco goalpost,” she said.
“It can also be tricky to remember all the things to turn off at the end of the day, especially here as we always get a rush just before closing. However, with savings like this to be made it’s definitely worth taking that extra five minutes every night to check.”
Neil advised Anjali against investing in expensive movement sensors to ensure that lights in back-room areas were switched off when not in use. “Equipment such as this is fine for a large store with lots of staff, but if like Anjali’s yours is a small store with only a few staff it’s better to simply adopt more disciplined ways of working. Put a poster up in the staff room to remind yourself and staff about switching off lights if needs be.”
He also dispelled the myth that fluorescent lights were better left running as they use more energy to turn on than when in use. “This is only true for about a second, so as long as the light is going to be off for 10 seconds or more, you will save money,” he explained.
Another piece of advice from Neil was to always think twice about taking on a free branded chiller from a supplier. “These are often really energy-burning and could use an extra £350-worth of electricity every year. If you are still really keen to try one, ask the supplier if they can give you one with a door and LED lighting.”
He continued: “Anjali’s got the right idea, but a lot of other retailers just see energy as a bill to pay. They don’t realise that it can be influenced enormously. Most people can reduce their bills by at least 20% with simple tips such as these.
“If you can do this and also reduce the cost at which you buy your energy, being careful to avoid expensive rollovers, then you’ll get double the impact. Putting the two together could see you secure a 50% saving on your annual energy bill. In these challenging times, money like that is not to be sniffed at.”•
Save money on your Business electricity and gas
The energy market is generally rising so it is important to be vigilant when purchasing energy, and to keep on top of contract end dates, particularly when you consider that auto renewals can cost customers up to 50% more and be fixed for a further 12 to 24 months.
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If you would like an expert energy audit for your store, email your details to email@example.com.