This article originally appeared in DTE Energy’s EnergySmarts for Michigan Business, a free publication for our customers.

Benjamin Franklin said that a penny saved is a penny earned. Taking his concept further, any dollar you avoid spending is a dollar that can go in your profit column or that you can reinvest in your business. That’s why it’s important to minimize costs -the quickest way to improve profits.

This article focuses on grocery stores, convenience stores and florists, but any business that relies on refrigeration and wants to become more energy efficient can benefit from the information provided. The key takeaway is to determine how much energy your business uses in the various applications and to look for opportunities to reduce energy usage and related costs as compared to your competition. You don’t have to search all over the Internet for such data; we’ve conveniently provided pertinent information from the Business Energy Advisor in this article to get you started.

Attention Grocery Stores, Convenience Stores, Florists

Energy costs account for about 15 percent of the operating budget for grocery stores, convenience stores and florists. Because profit margins are thin for these types of businesses, every dollar in energy savings is equivalent to increasing sales by approximately $59.

Drilling down further, the average grocery store uses an annual average of 52.5 kilowatt hours of electricity per square foot. Typically, refrigeration accounts for 57 percent of a grocery store’s electric energy use and lighting accounts for 23 percent. As you can imagine, reducing even a small percentage of these costs can lead to significant savings.

Liberty Foods: A  Fitting Example

Here’s a real-world example of a business that didjust that: Liberty Foods in Detroit. When owners Naji and Sarni Bahoura took over the store, they wanted to give the residents in their area of Detroit a good grocery store, one where everything is fresh, attractively presented and the aisles and parking lot are brightly lit.

So, three years ago, the Bahoura brothers decided to remodel. In addition to meeting the aforementioned objectives, the remodeling also provided an opportunity to make Liberty Foods more energy efficient.

“One goal was to decrease energy costs. We replaced all the ceiling lights with higher efficiency T5s,” Naji Bahoura said. “In addition to making the store much brighter, we have significantly reduced our energy bill.”

A portion of those savings were reinvested in improvements to reduce the store’s refrigeration  costs -the largest single electrical expense for the store, which is typical of most grocery stores.

“We installed approximately 200 new, higher efficiency ECM motors in the coolers and a new computer system to control the refrigeration display units. In addition to being trouble-free, the combination of the new motors and the computer system is saving us about $1,000 a month in electricity costs,” said Mr. Bahoura .

Liberty Foods is also in the process of installing cooler curtains, to ensure that the chilled air is retained in the cooler, rather than chilling customers walking down the aisle. Cooler curtains are not only energy efficient, they will further reduce the store’s electric bill.

“DTE has been helping by telling us what needs to change so our store can be more energy efficient,” Mr. Bahoura added. “We’re seeing significant savings as a result of all the energy-efficiency measures we implemented. All the things we did and continue to do help us save money and energy while protecting the environment for future generations.”

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