The Ultimate Energy Efficiency Guide for Retail Business

The profit margin of retail business is greatly impacted by the costs expended on behalf of energy consumption. This represents a very small percentage of the entire turnover but can still affect the profits made. By tweaking your retail business management just a bit you can see real time benefit in your retail business management.

A 20% cut in the energy costs will benefit the profit savings of your business. This will be equivalent to a 5% increase in sales which means that you can enhance your profit margin by simply cutting down your energy costs.

A retail business should look to reduce their energy consumption not solely for monetary reasons. Customers today are becoming increasingly aware of issues related to the environment and some are even choosing retailers based on their environmental records. Paying heed to this factor and thereby improving your energy efficiency will better your corporate repute and can pave way to peak sales and brand interest in the target audience.

This comprehensive guide aims at providing single and multi-site retailers in managing their business efficiently. The practical tips mentioned will shed light on simple things retail business can adopt and incorporate to curtail their energy costs and also recognise opportunities for conserving energy.

Energy Cutback Opportunities for Retail Business

The energy consumed will vary considerably depending upon the type of store as UK is one of the most diverse sectors when it comes to retail. For instance, costs of energy will be seemingly lower for clothing retailers as compared to food retailers as they do not have to use refrigeration equipment round the clock.

That said there are few key areas where majority of the retail businesses can enhance management of energy consumption. This includes heating, ventilation, lighting and cooling. Given below are the tips to take advantage of energy cutback opportunities in these specific areas:


Heating is one of the largest outlays for a retail business as keeping customers and staff comfortable is paramount. Thus, retail heating can have a tremendous impact on energy consumption as heating accounts for almost a third of energy usage in retail premises. Moreover, consider the fact where a lot of heat energy is wasted by way of open doors and windows and here is the opportunity to cut back on heating bills.

Consider the Temperature Outside

Retail store managers may misconstrue that they are doing customers a favour by turning the thermostat up during the winter months. But, they fail to take into consideration that given the temperature outside most people will be wearing warmer clothes to keep up with the cold temperature. So, turning up the temperature by much is not really required and can lead to discomfort of the visitors. Always take into account the temperature outside before turning up the heat as every degree higher or lower will count for an average of 8% of your total heating bill.

However, it is also important to take into consideration the comfort of your staff when adjusting the temperature. Unlike customers members of staff will be wearing clothing suitable for indoors like t-shirts, blouses, shirts etc. So it is essential that you take into account their working conditions before dialling the thermostat down too low.

Abandon the Open Door Policy

Many retailers are known to leave their doors open so as to attract customers to step inside, but this can greatly impact the energy consumption and the resulting wastage. When doors are left ajar, warm air can easily escape and cold air rushes in meaning the heating system will be working constantly and leading to a massive amount of energy waste.

While closing the doors might not seem like an ideal solution, there are other ways to address this issue:

  • Installation of automatic doors which open when a customer approaches the store.
  • Install a revolving door which permits the customer to enter freely while simultaneously keeping most of the heat inside.
  • Create a ‘draught lobby’ which is an area directly inside the store. This area will assist in reducing the amount of cold air allowed to enter the premises whilst still letting you to have your doors open.
  • Keep your doors shut, but make your store appear open and welcoming from the outside.

Set Up Temperatures and Timers

Retail outlets are known to have two separate time zones – one when the stores are open to the public and other when the premise is solely occupied by the staff only. This means you should set up individual time profiles that work according to the opening time of your store and with it making sure that no energy is wasted when a large part of the store is vacant.

If the premise of your retail store is spread over a large expanse, it will be a good idea to set up individual heating zones which will let you control the temperature of the various parts of the store at a given point of time. For instance, the front section of your store which is closest to the entrance should be cooler, decreasing the heat and energy waste; whereas the section where the tills are (where the staff will be working) and the changing rooms for customers should be kept at a warmer temperature. The flexibility of being able to operate and control the temperature in various sections of a retail premise is a brilliant way to shave money off your overall heating bill.


Retailers rely on bright and attractive lighting to entice customers and to maximise their sales. So it comes as no surprise that lighting of a retail store accounts for a lot and incidentally it is also one of the biggest energy expense. However, there are several ways that retailers can adopt to decrease the impact of energy consumption whilst continuing to retain the same level of illumination. Some of these are listed below.

Invest in Low Energy Consuming Lighting

If you have not thought about this one earlier, well now is the perfect time! It a good idea to invest in the latest low-energy lighting technology as this will go a long way in reducing your bills. There are different types of bulbs available which provide similar high level of output as the standard bulbs for the same amount of energy consumption. Thus, retailers can gain sufficient lighting while simultaneously cutting back energy levels.


Within the premise of a retail store, the sales section particularly requires high level of light as compared to the other areas (for instance staff areas). Nonetheless, it is no longer compulsory to install high-energy bulbs in areas which require a lot of light. CFLs or Compact Fluorescent Lamps provide a similar kind of productivity to traditional tungsten bulbs whilst using 20% of the energy and it lasts up to 8 times longer. This eliminates the hassle of frequent replacement.

For retail stores it is also recommended to switch all fluorescent tube lamps with tri-phosphor-coated alternatives. These bulbs are known to provide more natural, attractive and brighter lighting along with being energy efficient. These bulbs continue delivering similar amount of output throughout their lifespan.

Replacement of Redundant Light Fittings

Bulbs alone cannot be blamed for ineffective lighting; the type of fittings used can greatly impact the energy consumption. Thus, it is vital that these fittings are thoroughly scrutinised, maintained and if required replaced at regular intervals.

If you are replacing the existing light fittings, make sure that you consult a qualified technician and indicate a high-frequency replacement. High-frequency light fittings are more energy efficient and can also decrease the heat production, flicker in lighting and the electricity hum. This together contributes in giving out a more striking and welcoming atmosphere for staff and customers alike.

Installation of Occupancy Sensors in Staff Areas


Office area, store rooms and other staff-only areas are probably occupied for a few hours every day and thus, these sections are a great to save energy on lighting. By undertaking installation of occupancy sensors in staff specific areas, you can be assured that the lights are switched on only when someone is present in the room. This makes it simpler to manage and curtail wastage of energy. Other areas that are ideal for occupancy sensors in a retail space include meeting rooms, stockrooms and customer toilets.

Label All Light Switches

Labelling of light switches is a great way to reduce wastage of energy in a retail environment. This will assist the new and existing staff members who will otherwise have to flick every switch on and off to determine if it is needed or not.

Routine Maintenance

It is vital that lighting rigs are maintained on a routine basis to make sure that they continue to function at an efficient level. Lax maintenance of lighting can reduce lighting levels by up to 30% a year and have a significant impact on energy efficiency. By regularly cleaning, testing and replacing bulbs  and fittings, you can make sure that the store lightings continually offers the best blend of performance and value.


Apart from lighting and heating of a retail space, it costs quite a bit to make sure that it is appropriately cooled and ventilated. Another biggest energy expense for a retail business is the cooling and ventilation. This cost is likely to inflate when considering large stores whose temperature needs to be managed and maintained very thoroughly. By making a few easy adjustments, it is possible to reduce the cost of cooling and ventilation of your business premise. Here are a few things that you can try:

Maintain System Components

Busy stores and shopping hubs experience ventilation clogs on a frequent basis and this results in system inefficiency and wasted energy. By sticking to a regular cleaning and maintenance schedule, you can keep the fans, air ducts and other components of the cooling system free from dirt and grime. This in turn will result in reduction of mechanical faults and breakdowns. The performance of the ventilation system should be scrutinised at regular intervals to make sure that no additional maintenance is required.

Make Use of Natural Ventilation

In the spring and summer months, it will be ideal to switch off your ventilation and allow the natural ventilation from outside to keep your retail premise cool. By letting the doors and windows partly open, you can create a natural airflow allowing the air within the space to be cool and fresh. However, before opening doors and windows on your premises, be sure to take into account the security implications.

Do Not Let the Heating and Cooling System to Operate Simultaneously

Wastage of energy takes place in a retail environment when you allow both heating and ventilation systems to operate simultaneously. This takes place when the systems are set at improper temperature points and could have been avoided by simply setting the thermostat up to a ‘dead band’. This occurs when a gap is created between the temperatures at which the systems can be turned on and off.

Minimise the Cooling Load


The internal cooling system is exposed to additional strain owing to direct sunlight, powerful lighting and electrical appliances like the refrigeration units. This is referred to as the ‘cooling load’. To prevent high cooling load from impeding the efficiency of the ventilation system, consider partitioning of windows with displays which obstruct direct sun exposure. You can even opt to replace all the traditional light bulbs wit CFL alternatives and at the same time ensure that appliances are functioning as efficiently as possible to lessen the heat generation.

Energy Management for Retail Business

  • Involve staff in the energy reduction process – Make sure that you involve your staff and make them aware of the benefits of correct energy management and governance. One of the best ways to get the staff enthused about the whole thing is by way of incentives. This will create a sense of ownership in them regarding energy management practices.
  • Conduct regular housekeeping walk-around – Make it a point to walk around your retail business premise in order to identify opportunities for energy saving. Be on the lookout for open doors and windows, lights left on as well as indicators for any type of maintenance. Raise this issue with your staff so that such things are immediately addressed.

These techniques will go a long way in making your retail premise as energy efficient as possible, so make sure that you adopt and incorporate these methods in your business conduct.

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