A simple way to reduce energy use for multi store retail chains

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The energy consumption in retail stores usually consists mainly of air conditioning, refrigeration and lighting, so how hard could it possibly be to optimise efficiency?

Well the answer is: surprisingly hard – just ask anyone with a portfolio of hundreds of stores across Australia and spending tens of millions of dollars each year on energy.

Even within the same franchise or brand these stores will vary in terms of age and type of equipment, climate, energy tariffs, store size, design and thermal performance, store ownership, staff behaviours and customer traffic patterns.

There are an increasing number of software platforms and service providers that can automatically report on total energy consumption across large portfolios, periodically or even in real time. This can provide excellent visibility for financial reporting. However it’s almost impossible to determine the relative efficiency of any particular store, or the potential for improvement. Put simply: it’s not an apples-for-apples comparison due to the variability in all the factors that affect a store’s energy consumption.

Out Performers has been working with the owners of some of Australia’s largest chains of retail stores to pro-actively manage their energy consumption and achieve significant savings. We have developed a straight-forward approach specifically for retail portfolios that doesn’t require large capital upgrade budgets:

1. Our Engineers connect our energy management software to the site’s energy, gas and water metering facilities and collect data.

2. The data is normalised to allow suitable comparisons across sites for weather, trading hours, floor area, and other relevant normalisation variables. This allows an “apples-for-apples” comparison of the energy intensity of each site.

3. An Audit is then conducted of a representative sample of both high and poor performing stores to understand key influencers on good and bad performance.

4. The software then ranks each store’s normalised utility performance and communicates this with store managers each month in conjunction with a short list of simple, non-capital related activities relevant to that store that can be conducted each month to improve performance.

5. We help our client implement a reward and recognition program that rewards the largest improvements towards best practice and maintains useful communications based on real time performance data.


The chart shows the effect of such a program across 40 similar retail stores located across Australia. Before the program both the store average energy use and the standard deviation or spread of results was very broad. Over a period of 18 months stores have moved towards best practice indicated by a lower per store average energy use and a smaller standard deviation. The overall result was a 16% energy saving with limited or no capital.

Clients such as this one are achieving significant savings with minimal capital outlay. And once this energy “housekeeping” is done, the client is in an excellent position to allocate capex investments for the best return and then to track the results.

Our Engineers are experts in providing practical and data driven outcomes to our clients.

Contact us today to see how we can help you improve the return on your energy investments.

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