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One Size Doesn't Fit All: Energy Efficiency for Small Businesses – Part 1

One Size Doesn’t Fit All: Energy Efficiency for Small Businesses – Grocery and Convenience Stores – Part 1 or an 8 Part Series

At Lime Energy, we help utilities around the country bring energy efficiency to their small business customers.  With over 15,000 completed projects to date, we have learned a lot about the unique needs of small business customers.  For the next 8 weeks, we will take a look at several small business types and uncover their potential for energy savings.  In many cases, these businesses are eligible for incentives from their utility to cover a large portion of the project cost, making the long-term benefits of energy efficiency even more attainable

Grocery and Convenience Stores:  

The average grocery store in America spends $4 per square foot in in energy costs per year.  Believe it or not, that annual power bill equates to 1% of the total operating cost BUT almost 100% of the average profit margin.  The savings possibilities from energy efficiency are therefore quite dramatic.  According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, every dollar of energy savings is equal to increasing sales by $59.  That means that a 20% reduction in energy costs can mean a 20% increase in profits!

Lighting and refrigeration account for the bulk of total energy use, and therefore present the most opportunities for savings.

energy use in grocery stores

There are several low to no-cost measures that grocery stores can implement to reduce energy expenditures:

  • Turn lights, computers, cash registers and deli equipment off when not in use.  Every 1000 kWh saved by turning things off, equates to a $100 power bill reduction.
  • Cleaning and maintenance.  Proper maintenance of existing equipment addresses potential problems before they become energy wasters. Common equipment maintenance should include economizers, air filters, gaskets, condenser coils, door seals and refrigeration settings.
  • Temperature set-backs.  Turn down temperature settings during unoccupied times and adjust temperatures to accommodate seasonal changes.

Long-term energy efficiency solutions:

  • Retrofit fluorescent lighting from T-12 lamps and magnetic ballasts to T-8 or T-5 fixtures  with electronic ballasts to save up as much as 35% per year
  • Install LED case lighting, which uses 50% less energy than fluorescent lighting
  • Optimize refrigeration to reduce energy use by up to 24%.  This may include:
    • Implement a floating head pressure control system to take advantage of lower ambient temperatures. Savings opportunity = 150,000 kWh per year
    • Install anti-sweat heater controls to monitor the temperature or humidity in the store and run the heater only when there is a risk of condensation. Savings opportunity = up to 265,000 kWh per year
    • Install display case shields, or night covers, to keep products colder longer.  Savings opportunity = 8% reduction in refrigeration load
    • Install LED case lighting to use less energy and dissipate heat outside of display cases.  Savings opportunity = almost 5,500 kWh per case
    • Install automatic door closer on walk-in and reach-in refrigeration units. Savings opportunity = 7,000 kWh per unit
  • Install LED exit signs to save $35 per sign per year


From incentive programs to equipment rebates and recycling, local utilities may provide assistance in determining how best to implement energy efficiency solutions.  To learn more about programs available in your area, click here to visit our Small Business Energy Efficiencypage today.

For more on small business energy efficiency:

Part 1 – Grocery and Convenience Stores Energy Efficiency

Part 2 – Retail Store Energy Efficiency

Part 3 – Automotive Dealership Energy Efficiency

Part 4 – Restaurant Energy Efficiency

Part 5 – Office Space Energy Efficiency

Part 6 – Manufacturing Facility Energy Efficiency

Part 7 – Medical and Dental Office Energy Efficiency

Part 8 – Energy Efficiency in Education

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