making the high street more profitable

Some Thoughts on Energy Advice for the High Street retailers.


3 pieces of energy advice for the high street retailers to save money and increase profits:DSC_0023

  • Measure your Energy Use
  • Take the first steps
  • Avail of SEAI supports and Grants


  1. Measure your energy use. This is the fundamental first step in reducing energy usage. As every good business manager knows what you can’t measure you cant manage. Measuring can be as simple as tabulating and recording your energy use straight from your bills. As simple as this sounds its rarely done.

Alternatively for as little as €100 you could install an energy monitor. Single or 3phase doesn’t matter. But these little devices will record your electricity usage 24/7. Hence there should be no surprises when the bill arrives in the post at the end of the month because the little device will have measured first hand your usage and calculated the bill amount.

Measurement can get as sophisticated as you want but the above simple step is all you need do make savings. It’s estimated that 15-20% savings can be made by measurement alone.


  1. Take the first steps. Start with the easy to do stuff. Take lighting for instance. Some people might think lighting is an insignificant energy user.

Have you ever seen any of those satellite images of the earth from space? Its lite up like a Christmas tree. Every light is visible and every light counts.

Here’s something to think about; the average bulb in the average shop will use about 10 times (1000%) more to run per year than its original purchase price. So the savvy retailer will judge a light bulb not by how much it costs to buy but by how much it costs to run.

Here’s an example. (Bear with me) A client of mine had 100 inefficient light bulbs in his hotel lobby (not unusual) they were all 50 watts and I suggested 5 watt LED replacements 90% more efficient. He said 100 x €10 = €1,000 don’t have that sort of money. I said well then just buy one. You must have €10?

If you replace 1 bulb, it will save you € 10 in two months. Then buy another with the savings. After two more months you will have saved the price of two more bulbs. Buy 2 more and two months later you will have saved the price of 4. Buy 4 and 2 months later you will have saved the price of 8. 2 months later 8 turns to 16 then 32 then 64 then after only 14 months and only €10 spent all 100 bulbs will be changed and some to spare……. And continual savings thereafter of in excess of €5,000 pa.


Something else very important about this. The energy companies (Bord Gas, Electric Ireland, Energia etc) will pay actual money for every kilo watt savings because they are mandated by government as part of their license to do so. How much. About 3-5 cent per KW saved. In above example (50 -5) x 6,300 hours x 100 lights = 28,350KW @ say 3 cent gives you a payment from the electric company of €850. Nearly the full cost of the bulbs in the first place.


Psychology of light.

Here’s another thing about lighting shops on the high street….

Lighting like smart phones has come of age. Lighting is so much more sophisticated now than it used to be. For very little money lighting can be governed by smart chips that control the lighting output and color. What does that mean for the high street.


  • Jewelers can have bespoke lighting that enhances the sparkle in diamonds and gold.(and save energy and money at the same time)
  • Butchers can add a little red to enhance the color rendering on the meat produce. Plus the old high-energy bulbs were discoloring the meat as well as heating up the fridges. Hence there are double savings with both cooling and lighting costs reduced.
  • Clothes shops can go wild. a little bit of blue for the jeans department,. and white light for the tuxes. A little bit of enhanced temperature control (called Kelvins) in the dressing rooms can make skin glow such that everything garment looks well!!!
  • Some retail grocery stores were pleasantly surprised when they installed light sensors on refrigeration units that turned down to save energy when no one was near them. They initially thought that customers would avoid darker spaces. But the opposite was true. As customers saw the refrigeration light up as they approached they were drawn towards the displays. “LIKE A MOTH TO A FLAME” to quote the new proud shop owner.


  1. Where to find Grants and Supports for High Street

If a business has an energy spend of greater than €35,OOO per year they can avail of an SEAI (Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland) energy audit free of charge. This is a great first step in establishing all the energy costs of the business

For smaller businesses (which would be the majority on the high street) there are other supports for from SEAI. but really businesses will need to club together to avail of this grant assistance. Clubbing together is not common practice in Irish business, but it’s actually very common and works really well around Europe. but to meet energy targets and climate change emission reductions Irish business are going to have to learn best practice in co-ops and business community groupings.



For instance if a group of businesses come together and form a business community they can access up to 30% grant assistance from an SEAI fund called BEC (Better Energy Community). Not only will they gain grant assistance, they will also get economies of scale in terms of buying power. Plus they can avail of the energy credits from the energy suppliers (mentioned above in the lighting bit).


PS for more energy advice see my book “watt footprint” available in all good shops and Amazon

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