If experts are to be believed, the UK is in for much colder than average conditions this winter. Unfortunately, the price of energy is showing no such plunge, but thankfully there are a number of simple checks that can help cut energy use and see off the winter blues.
● Install timers or create a checklist to ensure that lights are switched off at night, or outside of trading hours. Likewise, have an opening-up checklist procedure for lighting to ensure unnecessary lighting is kept off until it is really needed.
● Make sure that bulbs, fixtures, lenses, lamps and reflective surfaces are cleaned. Removing grease, dust and other dirt can increase the output of your lights significantly, according to Angela Needle, head of energy consultancy at British Gas Business.
● Ensure that staff in first do not put on every light in the building just because it is dark outside. Ecomonitor managing director Brian O’Hagan says stores tend to have the full shop floor lighting on an hour before opening, which is often unnecessary.
● Don’t forget to turn off your chiller cabinet lights at night.
● Needle believes reducing and managing your gas consumption is the key to keeping bills in check over the winter months. She advises ensuring that your boiler is serviced and is working as well as it should be.
● Think about installing a boiler optimiser, a piece of kit that ensures the boiler is using the amount of gas that it needs to be and no more.
● Switch off heating when a temperature of 19°C has been reached. Reducing the temperature by just 1°C can cut fuel consumption by 8%, according to The Carbon Trust.
● Try shutting down the heating or air-conditioning an hour before closing. Staff and customers are unlikely to notice.
● Check all manually controlled thermostats, as people have a habit of tampering with them, points out O’Hagan. Set the thermostat and stick to it.
● Ensure that entrance over-door heaters or air curtains are switched off outside of hours.
● At night, turn off chillers that don’t contain perishable goods, such as soft and alcoholic drinks. Having timers will improve efficiency, particularly in winter, as the colder weather may allow you to switch off cabinets earlier.
● Do not overfill fridges. Only chill as many products as you think you will need.
● Check the seals on your fridges, freezers and cold rooms.
● Check all your refrigeration cabinet temperature set points. They may have drifted down over the summer and autumn months, and it is wise to ask your refrigeration maintainer to ensure that these are set to the most appropriate temperatures that take advantage of the colder winter months, advises O’Hagan.
● Energy efficiency in refrigeration can be improved by up to 4% if a cabinet set point can be safely increased by 1°C. Check this with your maintainer to ensure product safety.
● If you don’t have chiller doors, use night blinds in winter to ensure that cool air from the refrigerators does not spill out to the shop floor and reduce store temperature.
● Staff awareness is critical. Make sure that all staff are briefed on energy efficiency measures and the necessity to take ownership of this. The recent publicity on energy costs presents the perfect opportunity for you to brief staff on just how important it is to be energy efficient
● Check your energy contract termination dates. Don’t get rolled over, particularly with the energy companies putting up their standard prices. Ensure that you get the best advice possible on energy tariffs and contracts. Check out Convenience Store’s free energy switching service in association with Utilities Direct at http://convstore.udswitchit.co.uk/electricandgas.aspx
● Think about getting a smart meter installed by a reputable company. Smart metering can help knock a minimum of 10% off energy costs in six months. For more information on Smart Meters, visit Ecomonitor’s website www.ecomonitor.com.