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Retail Energy Management: 22 Tips to Reduce Expenses

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retail energy management

There are plenty of expensive retail energy management systems on the market today. But when you’re facing today’s extremely competitive retail climate and tight profit margins, you’re probably reluctant to make a heavy investment. The good news is – you don’t have to spend a fortune on a retail energy management solution that will take years to pay for itself. Follow these retail energy management tips and start saving money right away.

NO COST retail energy management

Your retail establishment is likely wasting energy and paying for it. You are not alone. According to GreenBiz, the retail industry consumes about $20 billion in energy per year. By implementing a retail energy management plan, retailers could collectively save a whopping $3 billion dollars annually.

Energy saving in retail does not have to be a costly proposition. There are some common sense energy savings measures you can undertake, which will yield significant results. Here is a list of retail energy efficiency tips that will not take any money from your cash register.

Top 11 no-cost retail energy management tips

  1. Turn off lights when not in use.
  2. Take advantage of natural lighting when possible. Open blinds and curtains.
  3. Reduce lighting in non-customer areas, such as stockrooms and employee restrooms.
  4. Keep exterior doors closed.
  5. Do not crank up the heat too high or air conditioner too low. If you reduce the cooling on your AC by one degree, you can save 4 to 5 percent in energy usage.
  6. Evaluate retail operation hours to see if it is prudent to open later or shut down earlier when balancing sales vs. operational costs.
  7. Shut off equipment, such as cash registers, when not in use.
  8. Shut off vending machines containing non-refrigerated products when the store is not open.
  9. Get rid of seldom-used phone/fax lines.
  10. Do not block HVAC vents and registers, and keep them clean.
  11. Get employees involved in your energy savings initiative.

LOW-COST energy management for retail stores

Now that you’ve seen the no-cost ways to save energy, it’s time to look at retail energy management strategies that don’t require a tremendous capital outlay.

Top 11 low-cost retail energy management tips

  1. Make sure windows and doors are properly insulated, sealed and close tightly.
  2. Install energy-efficient lighting instead of incandescent lights. Change to T8 Florescent bulbs, which use 40 to 50-percent less energy than older florescent types, which can mean a 10-percent reduction in your electric bill. Another option is to switch to LED (Light-Emitting Diode), which are energy efficient and last much longer than incandescent bulbs.
  3. Install LED exit signs.
  4. If your retail establishment has a parking lot, design the lot properly without excessive or energy-inefficient lighting.
  5. Install energy-efficient signage. You don’t need it to look like Times Square (unless you’re in Times Square!).
  6. Install occupancy sensors in areas that are not always occupied such as dressing rooms, restrooms and breakrooms.
  7. Install smart controls. Consider wireless thermostats, which will allow you to operate HVAC remotely.
  8. Outfit vending machines with occupancy sensors, which will cut power to vending machines after the room is empty for a specified time period. These sensors can reduce energy use by 25 percent or more depending on location and usage patterns.
  9. Make sure your lighting displays are energy-efficient and are on timers.
  10. Consider replacing breakroom appliances such as refrigerators and water coolers with energy-efficient models.
  11. Look into replacing traditional countertop sales registers. There are alternatives, including iPad-based point of sale solutions, which are cheaper to operate.

All of these tips can save you money. But there’s more: retail energy management improvements related to your HVAC system can be the biggest opportunity for savings.

Consider HVAC upgrades for retail energy management

According to the U.S. Department of Energy’s ENERGY STAR program, an HVAC system at a typical retail establishment accounts for 45-percent of energy usage. That’s why optimizing your HVAC system is an important component of retail energy management.

One retail energy management strategy to consider is installing demand-controlled ventilation (DCV). DVC’s measure occupancy levels in your store based on carbon dioxide in the HVAC return system,and adjust ventilation accordingly, which can reduce equipment run-time and energy consumption.

Another retail energy management idea is an economizer, which saves you money by pulling cooler outdoor air into your space. This type of cooling is known as “free cooling” because it does not rely on your HVAC’s refrigeration equipment to cool the air. Economizers come built into newer systems. You can also add an economizer to older systems.

Learn more: Looking to Reduce Energy Costs? Get an Economizer

For retail energy management, there is no substitute for HVAC maintenance

Regular HVAC system maintenance is critical for energy savings, because maintenance keeps your system running at maximum efficiency, which also minimizes energy usage.

When you have a service contract, an HVAC technician will regularly inspect your equipment thoroughly and fix clogged filters, leaky ducts, dirty coils, dusty vents and fatigued parts that will hamper the optimal operation of your system.

When your HVAC equipment is kept in peak condition, it also helps to prevent breakdowns and costly repairs.

Learn more:
Why Do Retail Stores Need Commercial Preventative Maintenance?

Calculating the Hidden Costs of Poor HVAC Maintenance

Get the guide to understanding your HVAC System's hidden costs.