By Robert Holdsworth, President
Energy Edge Solutions Corp.
Grocery stores and supermarkets are significant energy consumers using an average of 53 kWh and 38,000 Btu of gas per square foot. Industry data indicates that energy costs are 15% of the typical store’s annual operating budget. Due to the tight profit margins of most stores, every $1 in energy savings equals $59 in increased sales.
Because refrigeration, HVAC and lighting comprise 73% of combined store energy use (36%, 25% and 12% respectively), they point to a clear path of where to focus energy reduction efforts.
But where to start? With so much information available and so many options to choose from, it helps to know that there are ways to feel confident you are making the best, most financially and operationally prudent energy efficiency choices for your grocery store or supermarket. In today’s industry there are proven and recommended engineering approaches and technologies available that can guarantee results. And by working with an experienced, energy services company or engineering firm, choosing the right options does not need to be complicated.
Taking a carefully planned “whole facility” approach focusing on quick, low cost or no cost solutions is the best first step. This can include turning electrical consuming devices off or down when not in use, using sleep mode settings and “smart” power strips for equipment such as cash registers, scanners, computers, etc, when not in use, setting back temperature settings during closed hours and ensuring that HVAC and refrigeration systems are serviced and cleaned on a regular basis (i.e. checking the dampers on economizers, checking air-conditioning temperatures of return air and the air at the register, changing filters, cleaning condenser and evaporator coils, checking airflow, checking refrigerant charge, checking cases for air leakage and checking refrigeration temperature settings to ensure they have not drifted to low).
From there, you can choose from a variety of longer term options that are designed to offer much greater energy savings and can improve customer comfort and the overall shopping experience. Options should be considered based on their proven track record of success, whether they are “Approved” or “recommended” by organizations such as Energy Star, US DOE, USGBC, IEEE, etc., their cost effectiveness and return on investment as well as their consistency with you store’s goals and culture.
Excellent options for grocery stores and supermarkets include lighting upgrades to high efficiency fluorescent, CFL and/ or LED, Sine wave modification for parking lot lighting circuits, liquid pressure amplification for rack refrigeration, ECM fan motors, anti-compressor short cycling for roof top units, overnight display case shields, reflective roof coatings, and possibly equipment replacement for older systems that are approaching the end of their useful life.
Again, you don’t need to go it alone. Find a firm to help make recommendations and provide turnkey services for you. In choosing a partner to guide this type of “whole facility” approach for you, it is important to look at a number of factors. You may want to ask the following: What is their level of experience using these various technologies, do they use proven and recommended approaches, what are the credentials of their staff, are they members of key industry organizations, what is their level of knowledge of your industry, do they offer a free initial evaluation and do they offer guarantees at each step of their process.
Now go reduce your store’s energy consumption and add the equivalent of $59 in sales for every $1 in energy saved!