John Guthrie, Energy Efficiency Manager, ABB writes: We often seem to focus on the manufacturing sector when we mention or think about energy use, yet the retail sector now accounts for some eight percent of GDP, with retail sales in 2012 exceeding £300 billion. Despite recent high profile collapses and the inexorable rise of internet shopping, there are still over 280,000 retail outlets in the UK. The largest out of town shopping facilities are becoming destinations for day trips, attracting people from across the country.
All these visitors have to be kept at a comfortable temperature if they are to enjoy the experience – certainly, my nearest shopping mall is kept at a more than comfortable temperature and on a cold day, I leave the coat at home when I visit.
Because of this, it’s more than likely that they are using too much energy on their HVAC - how many department stores do you go into and have to take off another layer, while the staff are all in short sleeve uniforms?
So are they kept too hot? What about the circulation of all this heat? What about warm shops which also need to keep products refrigerated? Are their refrigerant pumps working overtime?
There is definitely room for the retail trade to cut its energy use – the Carbon Trust estimated that a 20 percent saving in energy is equivalent to an eight percent increase in sales.
Balancing HVAC load with demand is the way to keep these energy costs in check, best done with variable-speed drives working with energy efficient motors. Linked to a BMS, they can provide the best conditions for the shop, staff and customers without wasting energy.
Of course, cutting energy costs means you can pass on savings to customers, making you more competitive, and in today’s hard times, every little helps.