Preparing for Winter Weather: Efficiency Steps Retailers Should Take This Season
There's an unpredictability of winter weather that makes the upcoming season especially interesting for meteorologists, and far less enjoyable for anyone who has experienced the shock of a significantly higher energy bill thanks to extreme weather events like those that experienced Texas’ February 2021 storms.
When we look ahead to the colder months, there’s some good news — this winter is likely to be dominated by the effects of a powerful El Niño that began this summer, meaning an above-normal, drier season for much of the northern U.S., and a wetter-than-average winter for the Southeast. We can’t say for certain that this winter won’t bring with it any serious storms and extreme temperature dips, as predicting these weather events is a complicated process and winter storms can’t be forecast more than a week in advance.
With so much weather uncertainty, how can retailers protect themselves from the risk of a larger-than-normal energy bill? The first step is to take control of their efficiency efforts. Second, the prioritization of energy consumption reduction can help retailers take a step towards better budget management.
How Retailers Can Reduce Their Energy Consumption
When saving energy is the main goal, the most effective first step is to enhance efficiency where possible. Start by replacing outdated equipment, retrofitting facilities with LED lighting, installing occupancy sensors, and more. Ensuring a building is fit with the most up-to-date LED bulbs is important as these bulbs typically save 90 percent in energy consumption compared to incandescent lighting.
With most strategic initiatives, improving efficiency takes time and input from key players within a business. Once there’s a plan in place, these practices can almost immediately help lower energy consumption. As for creating a plan, the IGS team almost always begins with the same strategic road map, regardless of a company’s size, sustainability goals or resources.
Step 1: Invite the right people to the conversation.
Consulting with an expert in managing and analyzing data can be especially helpful when the right internal members are present. Retailers are most likely to have success implementing energy efficiency efforts and controlling costs when those who have insight into total energy usage come together with those who are overseeing and helping to pay the bills.
Step 2: Establish a benchmark for your energy usage.
With an understanding of where operations are today, a business can determine when and how it’s using energy, as well as the impact on energy costs. After an energy review with internal and external experts, a real-time monitoring program can be implemented to help identify opportunities for efficiency improvements, benchmark usage before improvements, and verify the impact of these improvements.
Step 3: Get to know your energy bill.
About half of a company’s energy bill is driven by its energy demand. Demand is the measurement of the largest interval of power used during the billing period and consumption is the measurement of the total quantity of power retailers used during the billing period. The demand an organization is billed for represents the peak amount of power used at any one time during the billing period. Energy efficiency efforts help save organizations money by lowering the demand required to run a facility. In turn, being able to flex energy load through efficiency solutions is one of the simplest ways to reduce energy spend.
Regardless of the weather winter brings, these efficiency efforts can go a long way toward helping an organization lower its overall energy spend. And as volatility continues in the energy market, taking control of efficiency efforts will lower consumption and cost and is more important than ever.
Brent Rice is a meteorologist, senior analyst, IGS Energy, a company offering 100 percent green electricity and carbon-neutral natural gas to customers.
Brent Rice is a Meteorologist and Senior Analyst with IGS Energy. As a member of the Forecasting and Supply Analytics team, his responsibilities include offering pertinent weather forecast information to members of the company’s supply team and contributing analytical skills and forecasting expertise to various departmental projects. He received his Bachelor’s degree in Meteorology with a concentration in Weather Risk Management from Penn State University and Master’s degree in Computer Science with a concentration in Machine Learning from Georgia Tech.