Grocery and convenience stores use significant amounts of energy due to long hours and large energy demands for refrigeration, display lighting, cooking, and heating and cooling. Despite the significant energy costs inherent in these stores, inefficient practices and technologies are still commonplace. Consider the following:
- T12 fluorescent lighting used in refrigerated display cases: This is inefficient lighting technology that is difficult to place on controls. In addition, these lights produce substantial heat that must be removed by the display case’s refrigeration system.
- Walk-in coolers: Many walk-in coolers do not have strip curtains or automatic door closers, meaning significant energy can be lost every time the door is opened.
- Display door heaters running 24/7: These heaters keep doors from fogging up, but typically run 24/7, significantly adding to the store’s electricity bill.
The Energy Group conducted an energy audit of a particularly energy-hungry grocery store that was using 12% more energy per square foot than the national average. Here is where that energy was being spent:
The following energy savings opportunities were identified:
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These improvements included LED lighting and lighting controls, display night covers, display door heater controls, walk-in cooler strip curtains, and efficient fan motors for refrigeration systems. It is hard to think of a building sector with more potential for energy savings than grocery and convenience stores.
However, these improvements should be properly analyzed by a qualified professional to determine potential savings and costs. A level 1 energy audit is an inexpensive means to identify these potential savings and costs. A level 2 energy audit, while more expensive, will present a more thorough and accurate game plan for investing your dollars in energy savings. For substantial HVAC and refrigeration improvements, a level 3 analysis may be the way to go.