Energy efficiency is a challenge for every business, but for small retailers it presents an opportunity to improve margins, offer a wider range and give back to the community. Mark Bowen, UK marketing director at ScottishPower, shares five tips for reducing energy consumption in your store.
- Create an energy management plan
“Convenience stores and retailers come in different shapes and sizes, and all have specific energy needs depending on the facilities and equipment used,” Bowen says.
He recommends that retailers’ first step to saving should be creating a simple energy management plan.
“It doesn’t need to be complicated, just easy to follow to become a routine procedure,” he says.
Aman and Joga Uppal, owners of One Stop Mount Nod in Coventry, began planning ways to lower their energy costs when their store underwent a complete refit. They wanted to increase their range, but keep costs down.
“Despite a huge increase in fridge space, our new efficient chillers and LED lighting have lowered the business’ outgoing costs,” Joga says.
- Get staff involved
Bowen urges retailers to train all of their staff on energy efficiency, which could help to boost margins lost covering the rising national living wage.
“This will help to establish a culture of energy management across the business,” he says. “Consider making one of your employees an ‘Energy Champion’, who is responsible for delivering points in your action plan such as switching off equipment at the end of the day.”
- Switch to LED
Lighting accounts for up to 25% of a business’ energy use, so Bowen advises that the simplest way to manage it is to ensure all lights are turned off when a room is not in use.
“Switching to LED bulbs can result in energy savings of up to 90%,” he says. “Although this may require initial investment, the long-term savings will pay off.”
Justin Fenn, owner of a Kwik Save store in Great Yarmouth, took over his parents’ store three years ago. As soon as the business changed hands, the store was closed for a major refit – which included the installation of energy efficient appliances.
“I’ve made everything far more efficient, which has ultimately saved me money,” Justin says. “Everything changed at the same time. The fridges have doors now, and LED lighting was installed. It’s not just about saving money; everything has been done to make the shopping experience a positive one.”
- Turn down the thermostat
“Heating is a major source of energy use,” Bowen says.
“Turning your business’ thermostat down by just 1°C could save you up to 8% on your energy. The recommended temperature level for shops is between 19 and 21°C.”
- Invest in refrigeration
“Investing in a modern, energy efficient refrigeration system will help to reduce waste in the long term,” says Bowen.
“If this isn’t possible, ensure refrigeration systems are well-maintained, and consider fitting plastic strip curtains to keep cold air in.”
ACS chief executive James Lowman told Retail Express that refrigeration investments are key to maintaining a successful business.
“People want to shop more locally, but they want to be able to buy what they need to feed their families with,” he says. “This means that produce in the fresh and chilled categories are essential. It’s therefore hard to generate the margins to afford wages and costs without investing in credible refrigeration.”
Jagjeet Hayre, who owns a Premier Express in Leicester Forest East, is currently working to put an energy-saving plan in place.
“I’m about to put in some new slimline freezers that are more eco-friendly,” he says.
“Retailers need to be responsible because that’s the way the market’s going, and not just for larger shops. Making these changes will benefit us by keeping costs down and generating more income, but it’s also great to know that we’re doing something good for the environment.”