“Your energy savings would pay for any incremental cost or any early retirement of existing product costs in three to five years,” says Miller. “The commercial cooking products came out around 2010 and I know that sounds like a long time ago, but in the life of a supplier business, it’s a recent entry. There are some suppliers out there who just don’t want to make the effort and time to get to know these products. I would say that in provinces where there are rebates and incentives for Energy Star certified commercial products, the awareness is a bit higher. In the Atlantic Region, there’s quite a few of them and in Manitoba there has been some for quite a while.”
One of the quickest ways to save on energy is to take a look at your lighting, notes Miller.
“I walk into small businesses every day and see they still have old-fashioned lighting,” she states. “That is a low hanging fruit. The return on investment is instantaneous. I see business owners roll their eyes about this but I cannot overstate how just switching out your lighting to new LED fixtures and lightbulbs can make such a difference. You can go to just about any supplier and get all shapes and sizes of Energy Star certified lightbulbs.”
Natural Resources Canada, www.nrcan.gc.ca, in connection with the United States Environmental Protection Agency, have an online searchable product listing for Energy Star products.
“There is Energy Star certified just about everything,” says Miller. “There are 75 product categories and quite often there are rebates for them.”
Hussmann Corporation is an example of one company that is increasing its presence with alternative refrigerants that are more energy efficient and have lower global warming potential (GWP). They also have energy efficient features in ECM motors, parallel refrigeration systems, LED lighting, night curtains, controls, and doors for reach-in coolers and walk-ins.
“This includes the vertical reach in self-contained cases (VRM, VRL) and the door merchandiser MD4060DA,” says Greg Plodzien, marketing communications and web specialist, Hussmann Corporation. “We will continue to invest in energy efficient products. We continue to see partners and retailers move to more energy efficient and better for the environment products. Several have increased their sustainability presence and are requiring improved energy conservation over the next few years.”
Anything that a retailer can do to improve energy efficiencies is a great idea, says Plodzien.
“There are rebates available that can help offset any additional costs,” he comments. “Be sure you understand an energy efficiency project’s payback. Rely on technology experts, verify savings estimates and ask your local hydro company if rebates might be available for the efficiency upgrades that you are considering.”
Heating, Cooling, Ventilation Systems
Once you have evaluated your equipment inventory and are reaping the investment returns of new energy efficient products, you can start to look at bigger things, like heating, cooling and ventilation systems, which tend to cost more to tweak, notes MIller.
“Currently, most convenience stores and small retail facilities employ heating and cooling technology that use single or multiple standalone roof top units (RTU), which provide hot and cold air to the interior of the facility depending on the season and demand for either cool or warm air to maintain a comfortable environment,” says Keith LaRose, director of Business Development, CopperTree Analytics Inc.
RTU units require relatively significant amounts of energy to function, says LaRose.
“One of the challenges is they are most often truly standalone in that they operate on a feedback loop from a thermostat in the facility, which calls for either heat or cooling based on the measured conditions inside,” says LaRose. “Unfortunately, if you are a convenience store operator with several hundred store locations, these standalone units offer no centralized control, monitoring or analytics capabilities to enable you to take proactive control, foresee and react to mechanical problems affecting the units, or ensure that they are operating in a method that is as energy efficient as possible.”
New technologies, which include cloud computing, cellular data modems and data and energy analytics solutions are changing the landscape for these systems by enabling them to be remotely monitored, controlled and analyzed, says LaRose.
“These capabilities lead to drastic reductions in energy consumption and the ability to respond to, and even predict, mechanical system failures,” states LaRose. “Data can be transformed into knowledge and retailers can leverage the capital investments they have already made and make them more efficient. Unfortunately, too often the data that is available from their facilities is being thrown aside as quickly as it is being generated because they do not have the systems in place to capture, collect and analyze the data.”
A good analytics solution will focus not only on energy but also on comfort, says LaRose.
“After all, the goal of a retailer is to sell products but that is near impossible if their facility is not appealing to their customers,” he remarks. “Imagine if a retailer could predict a HVAC system failure and have it repaired before it causes a disruption. That is not science fiction. It is possible today with the right technology and processes.”
As miller notes, “an informed consumer is a powerful one.” As a consumer of energy, it’s a good idea to become informed about ways to improve the energy efficiency of your business.