For retail businesses, shaving a third of their store heating costs can deliver the same bottom line benefit as a 5% lift in sales
Most retailers recognise the importance of keeping customers and staff comfortable, but few realise that it’s possible to shave up to a third off their heating costs, regardless of which system is in place, by rolling out some simple energy-saving measures without sacrificing customer comfort.
With energy one of the largest controllable overheads in retail stores, there are substantial savings to be made on both the shop floor and in the back office, so getting energy educated is critical.
Saving energy in a retail business is one of the simplest ways to directly increase margins without the need to grow sales—in fact, a20% cut in energy costs can represent the same bottom line benefit as a 5% increase in sales, making energy-saving the new profit centre for retail businesses.
But with winter heating pushing gas and electricity bills higher—not to mention electrical equipment to run —it might seem as if your energy bills are beyond your control.
However, by focusing on easily actionable measures you’ll be amazed at how simple actions can save energy, cut costs and increase productivity with the quickest payback.
Many energy-saving opportunities are within the control of staff and easily achievable at little to no-cost, which is an ideal way of making energy conservation part of a collaborative staff effort.
Keep your store heating costs down, regardless of the system in place
Contrary to popular perceptions, controlling energy usage at little to no cost whilst providing customers with comfortable temperatures are doable goals and not mutually incompatible.
Heating in retail businesses: low-cost quick wins
- Don’t use extra electric heaters—these are one of the most expensive heat sources
- Close window blinds in the early evening to help reduce night-time heat loss
- In warm weather, turn down the heating rather than opening the windows
- Encourage staff to turn down the thermostat radiators in their rooms
Reducing your store temperature by just 1°C can save enough energy to print over 40 million sheets of A4 paper
Reducing heating temperatures by just 1°Ccan cut energy consumption by 8%. Listen to staff, especially after making changes, and act on any feedback.
Boost your energy-efficiency—and bottom line
There are varied other ways to bring your business energy bills down, by introducing energy-efficient best practices into your store without compromising service levels or health and safety concerns.
Consider outside temperatures
Customers will be wearing warmer clothing if it’s cold outside, so in-store temperatures should be set to avoid them becoming uncomfortably hot while in-store. Always provide practical staff uniforms so comfortable temperatures can be maintained—some retailers waste energy by heating stores to accommodate staff wearing short-sleeved uniforms.
Open all hours? Check system operating hours match the times when heating is required
Check system operating hours match the times when heating is required, as needs vary throughout the day. It’s often possible to reduce or shut down heating an hour before store closing without any noticeable difference to staff or customers.
Use simple time switches in smaller stores to help automate this process so that nobody forgets—and ensure time settings are reviewed every month to check that they’re correct, rather than relying on temperature controls alone.
Systems often function inefficiently because someone made a short-term adjustment that was forgotten about. Often, simple adjustments to the location and control settings can reduce costs without affecting staff and customer comfort.
Control the loss of warmed air through open doors
Shoppers and suppliers require easy store access but open doors allow warmed air to escape and cold air to enter. The thermostat then senses a temperature drop and automatically switches on heating which may be unnecessary. If you have an open-door policy, try to keep external doors open only at busy times or try one of the following:
- Install automatic or revolving doors to help maintain the inside temperature while ensuring that shoppers and delivery personnel have easy access
- Install a draught lobby, or alternatively, heat pump-powered air curtains, to reduce the amount of hot air lost through open doors
Maintain boilers and pipe work
Quick fixes here include:
- Service gas-fired boilers once a year and oil boilers twice a year by a reputable firm—aregularly serviced boiler can save as much as 10% on annual heating costs
- Insulate boilers, hot water tanks, pipes and valves to prevent heat escaping
Invest to save
Upgrade to weather compensation and optimum start controls
Comfortable customers tend to spend more time in-store, but heating systems can be problematic with old, inefficient time controls.
Certain heating systems now automatically adjust themselves to the UK’s changeable weather. These include a compensator, which automatically regulates the heating temperature according to the weather, and an optimum start controller, which adapts to how quickly a building reaches the desired temperature and brings the heating on at the optimal time prior to building occupancy.
Upgrades can pay for themselves very quickly through energy and cost savings.
Simple energy solutions with a big payoff
Combined, these relatively simple solutions help you save money, increase your staff productivity, and reduce your carbon footprint—all of which enhances your Triple D bottom line.