Your local store is keeping costs down with energy efficiency
Your local convenience or grocery store is probably a fixture in your community. Whether it’s a late-night run for some delicious Vermont ice cream or a quick stop for lunch, these stores make sure you have what you need. But keeping the lights on and the food cold can result in high energy bills, which might make it hard for your local store to stay open and keep prices down.
Efficiency can help! Lighting and refrigeration are two of the biggest expenses at a small convenience or grocery store. Simple upgrades to LED lights and efficient refrigeration equipment can make a big difference on bills, and create a more welcoming environment for the next time you stop by. Read about a few examples of how efficiency has helped locally-owned stores across Vermont.
The lights are always on at Jolley convenience stores. With 35 locations in Vermont—nine of them open 24 hours—the locally owned, popular convenience store chain is figuring out ways to cut energy costs.
Property Manager Carl Ruprect worked with Efficiency Vermont to assess the most cost-effective efficiency upgrades for the company’s stores and access available incentives. With the 24-hour lighting and refrigeration needs, Carl prioritized upgrades that would save energy and money from day one:
- Installation of LED interior, parking, and canopy lighting
- Construction of new beer caves (walk-in coolers) with LED lighting and efficient refrigeration equipment to keep the beer cold and the energy bills low
“It makes financial sense to work with Efficiency Vermont. From our perspective, the rebates and the cost savings on electricity, service, and maintenance have made our investment very worthwhile.”
Jolley has responded to Vermont’s booming craft beer industry by giving customers exactly what they want—a wide selection of beer in stores. Efficient beer caves are built into the design of every new Jolley store. Carl says the beer caves allow Jolley to display more products and thereby increase sales—a win-win for the company and beer lovers.
The best part: the savings from the projects they’ve completed will go back into upgrading additional stores. Carl hopes to eventually upgrade as many Jolley stores as possible.
Ray’s Market, a small local grocery, has been a fixture on the Irasburg, Vermont village green for generations. With its front-porch entrance and original wood floors, Ray’s red brick building seems like it’s hardly changed since it was built nearly 130 years ago.
But look closer and you’ll see a different story: Ray’s Market is using cutting-edge efficient equipment. State-of-the-art lighting and refrigeration upgrades, combined with a heat recovery water heating system, have cut the store’s energy costs by more than $12 thousand dollars per year.
“No business is easy, but the food industry is very competitive. Efficiency Vermont knew their stuff. I wouldn’t have done this without their advice and rebates. It’s great to cut energy costs so I can keep prices reasonable.”
When Leo first reached out to understand how to reduce the store’s high electricity bills, Efficiency Vermont recommended upgrades to the store’s refrigeration equipment and lighting. With the team’s guidance and available incentives, Leo was able to lower his energy bills and create a brighter, more inviting environment in the store.
Then they took things to the next level. The property had significant hot water needs for the meat packing process and for rental apartments above the store. The refrigeration systems throughout the store generated excess heat. Working with Efficiency Vermont, Leo installed an innovative system to capture the waste heat and use it to preheat hot water for the entire building.
The energy savings from that project alone will pay for the upfront cost of the upgrade within two years.
Lisai’s market, like most grocery stores, has high energy costs. Coolers and freezers work hard around the clock, and lights must be kept on more than thirteen hours each day.
“The old lighting burnt out so often, it was hard to find the time to fix it. So it might sit there, broken, for a month. The new lighting doesn’t do that. Now the store looks much more inviting, and the products look fresher. I know that sales have increased.”
Third-generation owner Lonnie Lisai worked with Efficiency Vermont and Arctic Air Refrigeration to upgrade his refrigeration system, including:
- Installed night curtains to reduce the amount of energy needed to keep open cases cool after hours
- Added humidity-based door heater controls
- Integrated high-efficiency evaporator fan motors and controls to walk-in coolers and freezers
Arctic Air Refrigeration worked seamlessly with Efficiency Vermont to ensure that equipment and products installed would qualify for rebates, and that Lonnie would see a nice return on his investment.
Lonnie also switched out all his case lighting for LEDs. Besides requiring far fewer watts for the same brightness, LEDs run cooler than other lights and last longer.
Lonnie plans to reinvest his savings back into the store, to help keep up with other demands.
Vista Market in Newport had a problem: a megastore with a supermarket was moving into their territory. Located downtown in an aging building with older lighting and equipment, Vista’s profit margins were tight as it was. How could they compete against a new store?
To complicate matters, the market’s space was leased. Improving a leased space can feel like a risk to a tenant; even long-term tenants like Vista Market. At the same time, many property owners find it hard to justify investments in a space that’s been happily rented for a while.
In this case, Pomerleau Real Estate, the owner, saw the situation as a mutually beneficial opportunity. By working together with Efficiency Vermont, Pomerleau and Vista Market invested in some much-needed upgrades:
- The store went from aging fluorescent lighting to bright, energy-efficient LEDs, many of which are controlled by automated sensors for added savings and convenience.
- All the stores’ refrigerated cases have been upgraded with new, efficient evaporator fan motors, and the enclosed cases have new door-heater controls. They’ve also upgraded all case lighting to LEDs.
- Covered walkways and entrances are now lit by LED, and new LED lights were installed throughout the parking lot.
They were able to get funding to support the project from Efficiency Vermont and the Preservation Trust of Vermont.
In addition to lowering operating costs, the store upgrades have improved the customer and employee experience.
“The store is brighter, and I haven’t had to change a single light bulb since we did the work. That’s a pretty big difference from before.”
And the energy savings and reduced maintenance benefit both the tenant and the owner.
“We’ve had some really great opportunities to work with Efficiency Vermont that have had an almost immediate payback, and Vista is one of them. It’s a win-win: our tenants get to have lower utility bills, and we see reduced maintenance costs.”
In fact, thanks to financial support they received, the total cost of the improvements will be paid off by energy savings in just 2.5 years.