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10 innovative ways to save energy in retail

Customers are increasingly picky when it comes to choosing brands and stores: green and ethical grows in importance. Being mindful with your energy use is part of being green and ethical. But that’s not the only reason why saving energy is a fantastic idea: it reduces costs, protects the environment, and may increase comfort in the store. 

So therefore, we’d like to help you with some energy-saving tips. If you have access to an energy management system, such as the one hello energy provides for asset managers, property managers, tenants, and visitors, this is your starting point. Get a better understanding of your energy use, in order to identify where your savings potential is. 

If you don’t, the graph below gives you an indication of your use. It shows the average energy use of the retail sector. 

Graph that shows the breakdown of energy use in the retail sector
Source: Carbon Trust

The largest saving can be realized in heating, cooling, and lighting. Let’s see what you can do:

  1. A comfortable inside temperature is way lower than you might think in winter, and higher than you might think in summer. Customers in most types of stores wear their ‘outside clothes’ inside. If you make sure your staff also wears warmer (or cooler) clothes, the heating and cooling can be turned down. 
  2. Encourage staff to engage in saving energy. For example, by explaining the importance of saving energy, by reminding them of good behavior (e.g. by placing stickers near light switches), and by showing them the impact of their efforts using energy management software.
  3. Switch off heating and cooling an hour before the store closes. Or use a simple timer to manage this, so you won’t forget. 
  4. During opening hours, have the doors literally open only at busy times. Make clear you’re open with a sign on your door. Alternatively, install revolving doors or place a heavy draught curtain around the door. 
  5. Switch all staff equipment completely off outside of opening hours. Avoid standby or sleep mode. 

Fun fact!

Did you know that reducing the temperature in your retail environment by 1 degree Celsius can reduce energy consumption by 8%?

Bonus tips if you have cooled storage at your retail property:

as you saw in the graph, cooled storage may take up a quarter of your energy use. So, the savings potential is huge.

  1. Minimize the time the storage door is open and limit the number of times you open the door: collect the products you want to store in front of the cooled storage, then open the door and move them inside. 
  2. Hang an inventory list on the storage door to limit the number of times the door is opened by people that want to know the inventory.
  3. If you have multiple storage spaces, try to store as much as possible in one of them. Now you can turn off the other ones. If you don’t have multiple storage spaces, consider having multiple small spaces rather than one large one. 
  4. If your cooled storage is in the shop area, of course, close the storage off with glass doors. Having open storage spaces is so 2010. 
  5. If you have in-store coolers, install night blinds to prevent the cold from the coolers to spill into the store, requiring heating in the morning. 

Asset managers or property managers

As an asset or property manager, your circle of influence and your responsibilities differ from those of the tenant: you control energy savings investments in the property. 

Our advice for making the property more energy efficient:

  1. Insulate the building well. In a typical building 26% of heat is lost through windows, 22% through the roof, 9% through walls, 8% through the floor and 35% through ventilation and air infiltration. Preventing draught and insulating the building makes the space more comfortable, while saving energy. 
  2. Prevent heat and cold escaping through the delivery doors or docking gate by installing air locks, PVC curtains, warm air curtains and high-speed motorized doors that automatically open and shut.  
  3. Fix water leaks right away. Damp is bad for human health and decreases insulating properties. Repair leaky roofs, faulty gutters, split pipes and any other leak as soon as possible. 
  4. Also check for air leaks and fix them. You can use the smoke of incense to find leaks (only works for smaller areas), or an air leak detector. Another option is hiring someone to depressurize the space in order to find leaks. 
  5. Switching to LED is a no-brainer: you save energy directly (note that 21% of energy used is from lighting, and this is mostly due to inefficient lighting); LED lasts longer which reduces maintenance costs; LED emits less heat which reduces the need for cooling; LED light is more easily controllable in terms of color and dimming.  

Split incentives

To overcome split incentives – where the property owner makes investments but the tenant profits from the lower energy bills – it is wise to engage in a discussion with each other to find common motivators. You all want a better future; you all want to save energy.

To distribute costs and benefits more evenly, you could look into green leases, or you could share expenses and savings. 

Engaging in energy management, for example with the insight hello energy provides into the establishment’s energy use, facilitates this cooperation. 

Let’s beat the energy bill, and increase customer loyalty while we’re at it! 

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