With bills set to soar, going green will be critical if you don’t want to find yourself in the red. It’s time to consider chiller doors and LED lights

Retailers struggling to pay their energy bills at the moment won't like the contents of the next few paragraphs.

According to energy regulator Ofgem, bills will soar by more than 6% over the next decade as the industry seeks to gather the £32bn it needs to connect more energy efficient sources such wind and wave farms to the grid.

Britain is now facing an 'investment hurdle' to replace its ageing networks, which were mostly built in the 1950s and 60s, to match increasing demand, the regulator said.

So, with costs set to gallop as the energy companies pass on the costs of building this new green grid, we can't quite stress enough just how key using energy wisely will be in the future.

Here at C-Store we have profiled a handful of green stores which, through the clever use of sunlight and heat recovery systems (HRS), have managing to keep their energy costs down, but the black and white truth is that these types of stores should soon start to be the norm rather than the exception.

Make it visible
Visibility of your energy consumption is paramount. If you can't see what you use, you won't be able to manage it. You should be able to answer all the questions below. If not, you need help! Smart metres and pulse metres are a great way to get an in-depth view of how energy is used in your store. 

- What is your energy consumption? 
- When is it being consumed? 
- Where is it being consumed? 
- Who is consuming it? 
- Why are you consuming it?
But if you're not quite ready to smother your roof in solar panels just yet, thankfully there are a great many ways in which you can keep your usage in check, and here's the good news many of them won't cost you a penny.

With a recent HIM survey revealing that two thirds of retailers didn't know how their stores were performing with regards to energy consumption, clearly this is a good place to start.

And with 56% of an average c-store's energy consumption currently spent on chillers, clearly these are the second.

Retailers left, right and centre are balancing the perceived negatives of installing doors on chillers with dramatically improved energy efficiency. If you're still unsure, installing good quality night blinds can make a tangible difference up to 10% to be exact.

So too can adding timers on chillers. As Ecomonitor's Brian O'Hagan eloquently puts it: "Just exactly what the heck is the point of chilling beer, wines and spirits to 2 degrees at 7am in the morning?"

And with LED lighting having come down so dramatically in price this year, it's a great idea for cold rooms.

Of course, simple tricks such as keeping windows clutter-free to let natural light stream in are effective too, but you can't do any of this alone. Explaining your goals and wishes to staff is also key to keeping costs low. Don't just tell them to turn lights off in staff areas when unattended, show them the impact this simple action can have on the business as a whole. "Energy efficiency requires alliances," adds O'Hagan. "Logical thinking and partnership working will deliver tangible results." And that's why C-Store is here to guide you every step of the way.