How to Make Retail Businesses More Energy Efficient

20 February 2017

How to Make Retail Businesses More Energy Efficient

The cost of energy is an important consideration for many retail businesses - more so than for other types of business. After all, retail businesses are often open for longer hours. They also have additional lighting requirements to make shops look appealing, and need greater control over climate to ensure that customers are comfortable. It is, therefore, important to make retail businesses energy efficient.

How much could you save by reducing your energy use? According to the Carbon Trust, you could save as much as 20% on your current energy bills. That is a significant amount of savings and is worth taking the time to achieve.

Here are some steps you can take to make your retail business more energy efficient.


Good lighting is important in a retail business, as it makes the shop more appealing and comfortable for customers. That being said, lighting accounts for up to 60% of a retailer’s energy costs. However, there are ways you can reduce the cost of lighting, without impacting your customer-facing areas.

For example, you can use low-level lighting in non-customer areas, and you can install motion sensors so lights are always off until one of your employees is detected. This includes lighting in storerooms, staff toilets, and other behind-the-scenes locations.

Light sensors are also useful if you have exterior lights, such as in a car park. They will ensure your lights only come on when required.

Finally, make sure you use energy-efficient lightbulbs in all areas, including customer-facing areas.

Heating and Air Conditioning

Heating and air conditioning make your shop comfortable for customers and staff, but there are steps you can take to reduce the energy they use.

The best place to start is to check your heating and air conditioning controls - do they match your opening hours or are they running at times when not needed? In particular, check your air curtains (over door heaters) to make sure they only run when your shop is open.

Another thing you can try is turning off the heating or air conditioning an hour before you close. You might find that this has no impact on comfort levels in the shop.

The temperature you set is also important. Many shops make the mistake of having the heating set too high in the winter and the air conditioning too low in the summer. You have to remember that customers coming into your shop will be dressed appropriately for the weather. You also have staff to consider, but you usually don't need a temperature of more than 19°C in the winter or less than 24°C in the summer.


Running refrigeration units contributes considerably to energy bills. One thing that will have an impact on energy use (although it requires investment) is to replace old fridges with more energy-efficient units.

Other less costly things you can do include making sure you don't overfill your fridges. Also, turn off fridge lights when your shop is closed, and check all seals to make sure the doors are airtight when closed.

Finally, you should look at the possibility of increasing the temperature of fridges that display non-perishable products, such as fizzy drinks.

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