The word ‘retail’ covers a diverse range of businesses, but by its nature will generally suggest premises of some sort. And with them, the associated running costs. In the current financial and ecological climate, retailers are looking to reduce overheads wherever they can and managers around the world are being challenged to lower energy bills as a key element of cost control strategies.

  1. Heat
Retail by definition, “the sale of goods to the public”, means dealing with people. And that means open doors and heat disappearing through them. Many stores are finally realising that in the winter time, customers tend to go shopping with winter clothes on. By simply issuing staff with fleeces, or bodywarmers and lowering the temperature by a couple of degrees, they can make considerable savings.

The Carbon Trust gives a guideline of an 8 per cent saving based upon a 1 degree reduction in temperature. Ensuring that air curtains and over door heaters are shut down when shops are closed also delivers significant savings. The opposite applies in summer with customers wearing lighter weight clothes; setting the air conditioning at a slightly higher temperature will, again, serve to reduce energy consumption. Turning heating or air conditioning off completely for the final hour or so of trading makes relatively little difference to the air temperature within the store but cuts two hours of heating or cooling costs.

  1. Energy Efficient Pumps
Switching to energy efficient pumps for boilers and ensuring that they only run during opening hours is also an important consideration for stores. Many have two or more boilers to allow for breakdowns and running one at a time, but with the more energy efficient pumps, can also make a significant difference. Regular servicing, and updating of boilers will ensure that they are running at their most efficient, and will ultimately reduce the chance of breakdowns with the associated cost of store closures and the potential loss of sales.
  1. Lighting
Savings on lighting costs can be achieved through the installation of movement-activated lights in staff toilets and other non-public areas. Energy efficient LED or compact fluorescent lighting can also be adopted throughout the store, and some movement-sensitive lighting can be fitted to freezers or ambient cabinets. Installing timed switches and ensuring that they are accurately adjusted to store opening hours can be a further stratagem for minimising energy wastage. Additionally, many city centre retailers which illuminate the exterior of stores are now considering the use of solar powered units with automatic twilight operated switches.

Switching off the lighting in display units outside of hours has a two-fold benefit, not only reducing bulb replacement and running costs, but also reducing the heat in cabinets. Turning off units housing ambient products such as drinks and empty fresh sandwich display cabinets outside of opening hours is also important.

  1. Refrigeration
Food retailers have the additional energy consideration of refrigeration units. The energy savings to be made with an efficient unit are staggering. Replacing old units with new energy efficient models will typically show a return on investment within 12 months of commercial usage. There are a number of other essential practices, all of which will serve to reduce energy consumption. These include avoiding overstocking the shelves; checking seals on doors and lids; promoting good customer use with weighted sliding closures; and ensuring temperature checks are accurate.

All of these relatively small and easy adjustments can make a significant difference to energy consumption and costs. In 2016, when companies are facing intense pressure in virtually every market sector, it is essential that every single cost be controlled insofar as is reasonably possible in order to help balance the books.

By Raj Sidhu, Pump Sales Direct