Improving Energy Efficiency in Retail

01 November 2023

Back to insights and resources

Improving Energy Efficiency in Retail

In the busy world of retail, where every penny counts, optimising energy efficiency can make a significant difference. For energy decision-makers in the retail industry, the pursuit of sustainability and cost reduction is more relevant now than ever.

In this blog, we will explore the energy landscape in the retail sector and provide tips on how to enhance energy efficiency. We will delve into the considerations unique to this sector, targeting specific roles, and addressing the issues of cost reduction, and sustainability, while keeping customer experience at the forefront.

The retail industry is a vital component of any country’s economic success, but its energy consumption is substantial. Understanding the energy dynamics in this sector is essential to making informed decisions about improvements.

According to the British Retail Consortium (BRC), the UK's retail sector accounts for 5% of the nation's energy use. Retailers spend approximately £3.3 billion on energy each year. To put this in perspective, the average retail store consumes 15 times more energy per square foot than a typical office building. This statistic underscores the critically important issue of energy efficiency in the retail sector.

What Consumes the Most Energy in Retail?

Retail businesses consume energy in various ways, but a few areas stand out as the most significant for energy use:

  1. Lighting

Retail units are known for their bright, welcoming atmosphere, but the lighting required to achieve this can be substantial. The use of traditional incandescent and fluorescent lights is far less efficient than their LED counterparts, using significantly more energy to run for hours at a time.

  1. Heating and Cooling

No shopper wants to feel goosebumps when they enter a store so maintaining a comfortable environment for shoppers is crucial, which often requires substantial heating in the winter and cooling in the summer. Inefficient HVAC systems and poorly insulated buildings can lead to energy waste at all times of the year.

  1. Appliances and Equipment

From refrigeration units to cash registers and security systems, retail establishments are packed with energy-consuming appliances and equipment.

How to Improve Energy Efficiency in Retail

Now that we’ve identified issues that can lead to high energy costs, let's explore some of the ways you can improve energy efficiency in the retail sector, aligning with the target roles and considerations specific to the industry.

  1. Load Shifting

For Supply Chain Operations Managers and Commercial Directors, optimising load shifting is a strategic approach. By carrying out energy-intensive tasks during off-peak hours, retailers can take advantage of lower energy rates. This might involve scheduling inventory restocking or maintenance activities during non-peak times.

  1. Smart Heating

Controlling heating based on location and external temperatures is a game-changer. Adapting heating settings depending on factors like weather and store location can lead to significant energy savings. For example, in winter, if the retail store is accessible directly from outside as opposed to something like a store in a shopping centre heating may not need to be as high as customers are likely to be wearing coats.

  1. Energy Efficiency Strategy

Directors of Purchasing and Group Purchasing Managers can focus on developing and implementing an energy efficiency strategy. This strategy should encompass goals, guidelines, and performance metrics to drive improvements continuously.

  1. Renewable Energy

Transitioning to renewable energy sources, such as solar panels or wind turbines, can help retailers move closer to sustainability goals and reduce costs in the long run. This initiative aligns with the wider industry's sustainability and net-zero objectives.

  1. LED Lighting and Sensors

LED lighting is a proven method to reduce energy consumption in retail stores. Additionally, implementing sensors that control lighting based on occupancy and making full use of natural light can maximise savings. Commercial Managers can lead the charge in adopting these technologies.

  1. Minimising Cooling Load

Efforts to minimise cooling loads, like better insulation, energy-efficient windows, and strategically located shade structures, can reduce the strain on HVAC systems. Reducing the cooling load aligns with the broader sustainability and cost-reduction goals of the retail sector.

Energy efficiency in the retail sector is both an economic necessity and a step towards a more sustainable future. By addressing specific energy concerns through load shifting, intelligent heating and cooling strategies, the implementation of a robust energy efficiency strategy, and renewable energy adoption, retailers can optimise their energy consumption and contribute to a greener retail landscape.

As the industry moves towards net-zero targets, Supply Chain Operations Managers, Commercial Directors, Commercial Managers, and Facilities Managers must take the lead in making these advanced energy efficiency solutions a reality. By doing so, the retail industry can not only reduce costs but also enhance the customer experience and improve the efficiency of product delivery, ultimately benefitting both businesses and the environment.

Remember that improving energy efficiency is a journey, and the retail sector must continue to innovate and adapt to remain competitive.

SEFE Energy is one of the UK’s leading business energy suppliers, helping thousands of businesses manage their gas and electricity contracts. To find out more about what we can offer your business, visit the homepage or request a call back here.   

opens in new window