Energy efficiency financing

Boost Energy Efficiency in Your Gas Station or Convenience Store

By Alice Bredin

Gas stations and convenience stores provide an important service and a comfortable place for shoppers to get the items they need. But storing, showcasing and selling these wares requires a lot of energy. Refrigeration accounts for 55 percent of a typical convenience store’s energy usage, lighting uses 22 percent and cooling eats up 6 percent, according to utility research and advisory firm E Source.1

Improving energy efficiency can help dramatically curb these costs—E Source suggests that energy savings in a convenience store can increase profits by as much as 10 percent.

Try these tips to help your gas station or convenience store conserve electricity and save money.

Use LED lighting
Light-emitting diode (LED) fixtures emit an evenly distributed light that requires less energy than conventional lighting. They also last longer than conventional lighting which makes them a good value despite their higher up-front cost. LED lighting also works well in display cases because it does not throw off heat that refrigerators have to work to offset.

Put lights on timers
Further cut back on costs by controlling exterior lights via a time-clock—for example, automatically shutting off unnecessary banks of lights 30 minutes after your station closes up for the night. Installing exterior lighting with a time-clock control may require help from a professional, but the investment in this help can pay off over time via energy savings.

Tint your windows
Many stores and stations need large windows so clerks can monitor gas pumps, but these windows can heat up the building, especially in warmer months. Putting a tinted film on your windows can cut down on energy costs while still providing high visibility. Special windows that auto-tint in response to different light intensities are commercially available, but putting an adhesive film over your existing windows may be a simple, short-term way to achieve the same result.

Although individuals often install their own tint films in cars and homes, a large commercial space would likely be better off hiring professionals to install the film. Be sure to get advice and think carefully about how dark your tinting should be, as a shade that works well in broad daylight may hurt your visibility during sunset hours. Try searching for professional guidance through the International Window Film Association or other trade group.

Increase refrigerators’ energy efficiency
Replacing refrigeration units with energy-efficient appliances can have a big impact on your bill, but you can increase your current units’ efficiency as well. The Environmental Protection Agency’s ENERGY STAR® program recommends placing refrigeration units away from direct sunlight to keep them running most efficiently.2 If possible, move refrigerators to a shady spot in your store, away from glass doors and windows.

Other efficiency fixes for refrigerators include installing automatic door closers that swing doors shut after a customer opens them and checking the sealant around the doors to ensure there are no leaks. Reseal doors if you feel a cool draft against your hands when you put them around the edge of the doors. If your store doesn’t operate 24/7, aluminum display-case shields that enclose refrigeration units can be a great tool for keeping items cool overnight and reducing the refrigeration unit’s burden.

Use a reflective coating on the roof or garage doors
Dark-colored roofs absorb the heat of the sun, which then requires more air conditioning in your store to keep things cool. Reflective or white-coated roofs help minimize heat absorption and reduce cooling energy use by 15 percent to 20 percent, according to E Source. Coating can also extend the life of your roof and prevent leaks.

The type of coating you should install depends on the material of your roof. Most surfaces work best with a coating made of acrylics, silicones, urethanes and other materials, although there are exceptions—asphalt roof surfaces, for example, often require an aluminum coating, according to the Roof Coatings Manufacturers Association.3 These materials can be rolled onto the roof or stuck on with chemical adhesives. Contact a professional for help selecting the material and applying it correctly.

A few easy changes can improve your energy efficiency in the short term, but if you want advice for how to tackle larger projects, download "PG&E's Guide to Financing Energy Efficiency Projects " for money-saving tips.

Sources:
  1. E Source, “Managing Energy Costs in Convenience Stores”
  2. ENERGY STAR, “Choose ENERGY STAR® Certified Appliances”
  3. Roof Coatings Manufacturers Association, “Reflective Coatings FAQs”

Boost Energy Efficiency in Your Gas Station or Convenience Store
  • SMB Blog Author
    Alice Bredin
    Alice Bredin is an internationally renowned small business expert and author. Small business owners worldwide have relied on her books and columns to improve their productivity and success. She is a former small business commentator for public radio's Marketplace program and has helped shape small business policies through her testimony to the Senate Committee on Small Business & Entrepreneurship. Alice is president of Bredin, Inc., a B2B marketing agency that helps the Fortune 500 sell to small and midsize businesses.
 

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