The retail industry is one of the biggest consumers of energy, which is why retail stores must implement strict energy efficiency policies to benefit not just themselves but also their employees, customers, and the environment.
While energy efficiency may seem like an impossible task for many retail businesses, it is very much doable. Through small changes, persistence, and the combined effort of everyone on board, businesses can start seeing a return on their investments and revised policies within a few months.
Energy efficiency provides several benefits for retail businesses, and a reduction in costs is one of the biggest ones. The amount of energy consumed by a business can have a direct impact on its finances in terms of huge cost savings.
The monetary benefits, however, are only the beginning and shouldn’t be the only reason that retail stores must look into reducing their energy consumption and adopt energy-efficient practices.
Energy efficiency can improve the business’s brand reputation, improve working conditions for their employees, be beneficial for the planet, and help them stay compliant with the law.
The retail industry is very diverse with a wide range of businesses and varying levels of energy requirements. For instance, a clothing retailer might have a lower energy consumption as compared to a food retailer needing constant cooling and refrigeration.
That being said, there are a few key areas that all businesses must manage better if they wish to enjoy the benefits of energy efficiency. They include:
Read on to find out the best practices for energy efficiency in retail stores:
Retailers rely on good lighting to attract customers to their stores. They use a mix of ambient and fancy lighting to create the perfect mood in line with their brand. Therefore, it is safe to assume that lighting accounts for one of their biggest energy expenses.
There are, however, several ways in which retail stores can retain the same level of illumination while reducing the impact of the lighting.
The best starting point for you to turn your retail store into an energy-efficient one is to switch to low-energy LED lighting.
It is important to note that low energy does not mean low quality. It simply means that the bulbs offer the same level of output as the high-energy ones, but at a fraction of their energy consumption. This way, retailers can enjoy great lighting all the while making great energy savings.
LED (Light-Emitting Diode) bulbs differ from ordinary lightbulbs in that the latter passes a current through a metal filament placed inside to emit light, whereas LED bulbs pass the electric current through a semiconductor – the diode, to emit light through the principle of electroluminescence.
They don’t use a metal filament, which is the major reason why they don’t get as hot as other bulbs. Also, they can be instantly turned on and off without affecting their lifespan and can produce light in a variety of colours.
While the bulbs you use have a huge impact on energy consumption, they aren’t the only things to be blamed for energy wastage.
The fittings also affect the levels of energy being consumed which is why it is very important to have them inspected and replaced at regular intervals, if necessary.
Should the light fittings need to be replaced, always consult with a qualified technician and go for high-frequency fittings that are not only energy-efficient but also minimise heat output and light flicker, creating a more attractive and welcoming environment inside the retail store.
Not all areas of the retail store need to be lit up at all times, right? Storerooms, offices, and other restricted access areas are occupied for only a few hours each day and can benefit from the use of light timers and sensors.
Failure to turn off lights and other electronic equipment after closing hours can cost retail store owners big time.
By installing timers and lights with motion sensor technology, you can ensure that the lights will be switched on only when someone is inside the room and only during predetermined timings.
Labelling the light switches can be especially beneficial in large stockrooms where lighting is generally zoned and staff need to access only a certain area inside.
To prevent new and existing staff members from testing each switch before getting the right one, it is best to label the light switches to reduce unnecessary wastage of energy and resources.
Electrical installations and all of their components need to be routinely maintained and inspected by professionals to ensure they are operating efficiently.
Issues with the electrical system can lead to unsafe situations such as injuries, shocks, and burns, and in serious cases, they may also lead to electrical fires which may not just put your property at risk but also the people inside it.
Through regular maintenance checks and thorough inspections, professional electricians can identify small problems before they become a huge issue.
In addition to that, routine maintenance helps eliminate issues with faulty wiring and problematic electrical installations that cause electricity leakage, which results in you consuming more electricity than you need.
Therefore, regular inspections and maintenance don’t just keep you safe from incidents and accidents but also help you save up on unnecessary costs and energy consumption.
Heating is the second biggest energy outlay for most retail businesses, right after lighting. It is an important aspect and is used to keep staff and customers comfortable, especially during the winter.
Read on to find out how you can use heating in an energy-efficient way without compromising the comfort of those inside your store:
Most store managers feel that by turning up the thermostat in the winter months, they are doing their customers a favour.
But given that most people have layered up and are wearing warmer clothes to combat the cold, it might be unnecessary and may cause discomfort instead.
Therefore, it is advised to take the outside temperature and the dressing of your customers and store workers into account before setting the temperature on the thermostat since every degree counts and makes an impact on your heating bill and energy consumption.
Many retail store owners prefer leaving their doors open to attract customers and give their store a welcoming feel.
As bad an idea that this may be security-wise, it can have a huge impact on energy wastage as well and is counter-productive.
Imagine turning on the heaters to warm up the place but leaving the door ajar, allowing warm air to escape and cold air to enter inside.
The store will never be warm enough and the heating system will rarely get a chance to switch off leading to a massive amount of energy wasted.
You can install automatic doors or revolving ones that allow customers easy access into the store whilst keeping most of the heat inside. Just make sure you also have the right security measures in place to prevent any unauthorised access.
Retail stores usually have two different time zones – one when the store is open for everyone and another when only store workers and staff members are present on the premises.
Using this information, you should set up individual time profiles that work around the different time zones, ensuring that the heating is set according to the number of people present and no energy is wasted on an almost empty store.
In addition to setting different time profiles, you can also set up heating zones, especially if your store is big. This allows you to control the temperature of different parts of the store at a given time.
For instance, areas where the staff are working, such as near the tills, and customer changing rooms must be kept warmer for more comfort. Alternatively, the front area of the store nearest to the door should be comparatively cooler and wouldn’t need as much heat.
The ability to control the temperature of different areas of the retail store is a great way to not just save energy but also make great savings on your heating bills.
Smart heating controls are a great addition to your retail store that let you control your store’s heating via a smart device such as a phone, tablet, or computer.
While regular heating controls allow you to adjust the warmth of your store through a dial or control panel mounted on a wall, smart heating controls offer you so much more.
They are more intelligent than the traditional and digital variants and connect to the boiler as well as the Wi-Fi network. This connectivity enables the system to be a part of a smart retail store solution.
They can be programmed in a way to turn off (or run less) when the store is empty (or nearly empty) and turn on just in time to heat up properly for when the store workers and customers arrive.
Smart heating controls come equipped with motion sensors to pick up on when people are around and when they are not.
Many systems also have a learning feature that, in combination with the motion sensors, can be trained to know when people are present and when the heating needs to be turned on or off.
This long-term learning helps with scheduling and saves a lot of time, money, and energy, making the system smarter and more efficient.
In addition to cost savings and long-term learning, smart heating controls come with a mobile app that allows you to control and manage the thermostat settings from anywhere. All you need is a smart device and a good internet connection.
What’s best is that the smart system allows you to receive reports about how much power you are using, how your consumption has changed over time, and how much it is likely to cost you.
These reports provide all the data required to track your usage, in addition to providing tips on how to make the system more efficient and save valuable energy.
Just as it is necessary to using heating systems in the colder months, it is just as important to use cooling and ventilation systems during the summer months to keep the store cool and fresh.
It costs a great deal to ensure that your retail store is properly cooled and ventilated, and it is the third biggest expense for retail store owners, right after lighting and heating.
It is difficult to maintain the temperature of particularly large retail stores and the controls need to be properly managed and maintained.
By making minor adjustments and following a few best practices, you can reduce the cost of cooling and ventilating your retail store and save a lot of energy in the process. Here are a few things you must do:
Cooling and ventilation systems can become dirty and clogged incredibly fast, which is why it is necessary to have them cleaned and properly maintained for maximum efficiency and reduced energy wastage.
You must adhere to a strict cleaning and maintenance schedule where the air ducts, fans, and other components are checked for dirt, obstructions, and any faults.
The performance of the system must also be assessed at regular intervals to ensure there are no technical issues and no further maintenance is needed.
We get that during the hot and humid days of summer, you need to regulate the temperature of your store using air-conditioners.
But for days when the weather is pleasant, you can let the natural ventilation from outside keep your retail store cool and switch of your cooling systems for a bit.
You can create a natural airflow by keeping the windows and doors ajar and let in that cool breeze, allowing the interior to remain cool and fresh.
Of course, before doing this, you need to see if it is even possible and the security implications of leaving the doors and windows slightly open.
One of the easiest and most common ways to waste energy at a retail store is to allow both the heating and cooling systems to work simultaneously. Doing so makes no sense and leads to nothing but utter wastage of energy and valuable resources.
How and why does this happen, though? The main culprit is in the settings where the systems are set at incorrect temperature points.
There is a simple fix for this issue called a ‘dead band’ where a gap is created between the temperature points of the systems at which they can automatically switch on and off.
For instance, the heating system should be set to switch off when the temperature reaches 19°C, whereas the cooling system must turn on at around 24°C.
Cooling load is an actual issue that puts additional strain on the cooling system and forces it to work harder. It is created by external factors such as direct sunlight, heat-emitting lighting, and other powerful electrical appliances such as refrigeration units in retail stores.
To avoid this issue, you can block direct sunlight from entering the store, replace all traditional lighting with energy-efficient LED bulbs, and ensure that all the appliances in the store are working as efficiently as possible.
While retail store owners need to implement the best energy-saving practices, it is simply not possible to do so without taking the retail store workers and employees on board.
The staff members technically run the store, which is why, to reduce your energy consumption and costs, you need to teach, train, and pass on this knowledge to the people working at the store.
Involving staff is a crucial step in the energy-efficiency process because, with little or no knowledge about the issue, they are unlikely to take an active part in the energy management process.
You can encourage them and reinforce their energy-efficient practices by offering incentives in the form of giveaways, competitions, and campaigns to meet your energy goals.
These fun activities will provide them with a sense of ownership and make your goals of an energy-efficient retail store more attainable.
In addition to that, you must also carry out regular housekeeping by walking around the retail store every month and recording your findings on how to make the place more energy-efficient.
For instance, if you see that the lights are left on or the ventilation system isn’t working properly, take note of it and take immediate action to rectify it.
For an expert recommendation on how to make your retail store more energy-efficient, it is best to consult with a professional company that can guide you on the most suitable methods tailored to your business’ needs.
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