Energy Efficiency Tips for Retail & General Merchandise Stores
Energy efficiency for retail stores is good for your brand reputation, the environment and your operating budget. Most retailers operate on thin margins, so every dollar saved is vital to profitability. Here are ways to get a handle on energy as one of the major retail store operating expenses and how you can control this cost.
Energy conservation in the retail industry
Your store environment is key to your brand and the experience you deliver to your customers. A store’s environmental elements like lighting, heating and air conditioning are typically a large part of your electricity bill. If you are running electronics and appliances, too, it adds up quickly.
Energy management in retail must strike a balance between energy efficiency and customer experience. Understanding your energy usage is the first step in getting the balance right. Then you can look for the best ways to conserve energy in your retail store.
How much energy do retail stores use?
Retail store energy consumption averages 14.3 kilowatt hours of electricity and 30.9 cubic feet of natural gas per square foot annually, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. While averages are a good starting point and benchmark, your usage may be quite different.
Factors that affect retail store energy consumption
The following factors have the most influence on your retail store operating expenses when it comes to energy consumption.
Types of products being sold. The type of merchandise you carry will affect your energy usage. If you are selling televisions, gaming systems, and electronics, you are likely using energy all day for display units. If you sell products that need refrigeration, it is likely your retail store will consume more energy around the clock.
Hours of operation. The more hours your store is open, the longer the lights will be on, the HVAC will be humming, and hopefully the cash register will be ringing. That all means more power usage.
Location and climate. If your store is in a very cold, very hot or very humid climate, your HVAC system will work harder and longer. HVAC is typically one of the largest power draws in a retail environment.
Lighting equipment and needs. The number and type of lights in your store can drive up energy usage considerably.
Store format. A stand alone store with doors opening directly to the outside uses more power for HVAC than a store inside a mall. That will drive up the average retail store utility costs.
Take control of your energy
Reduce operating costs and improve your bottom line with a fixed energy rate for your retail or general merchandise store.
After rent, inventory and salaries, energy is one of the larger retail store operating expenses. Energy efficiency for retail stores makes economic sense as much as it helps your brand and the environment.
Perform an energy audit. Before you do anything, learn the basics behind how to do a small business energy audit in your store. You will discover where you are using the most energy and can identify ways to optimize your retail store energy consumption.
Invest in energy-efficient lighting. Energy management in retail is easier when you install energy-efficient commercial light fixtures. You can find nearly any style and light color in LED bulbs that use much less power than incandescent or halogen lights. You won’t have to replace them as often either–a further savings.
Install a programmable or smart thermostat. It is easy to get busy and focus on anything but adjusting the thermostat. Choose among different types of thermostats, such as programmable ones and smart thermostats that adjust automatically to optimize energy use and comfort.
Monitor your retail store energy usage. You can purchase devices that let you measure energy use down to each individual light socket and circuit. Monitor your small business energy usage and see in detail where you might be able to increase store energy efficiency.
Service your HVAC system. Performing regular maintenance and replacing the filter regularly will keep your system running efficiently and using the least amount of energy.
Engage employees. Involve your employees in identifying where to save energy and in practicing energy efficient habits.
Go paperless. Ask customers if you can text or email them a receipt. Handle inventory and shipping documents digitally. When you go paperless, you’ll be more time efficient and you reduce retail store energy consumption.
More resources for improving retail energy efficiency
Energy efficiency for retail stores will help you achieve your business’s sustainability goals and enhance your brand reputation in your community. By minimizing waste, you’ll also improve your margins. We invite you to explore these additional ideas for helping your business contribute to a greener world.