FES View: Making Smart Energy Easy

Daniel Gold
By Daniel Gold on July 09, 2020

Top 4 High Energy Use Businesses That Can Start Saving Now

Businesses in the U.S. spend more than $60 billion a year on energy costs. Lighting typically accounts for 8% or more of these business’s annual energy expenses. That’s more than $4 billion in energy costs just to keep the lights on. The good news is there are some fast ways to save with LED lighting

Highest Energy Use Businesses

Consumer-focused businesses like grocery stores, car dealerships, hotels and even parking structures are some of the highest energy use businesses. The right lighting creates a welcoming environment for their customers while also improving employee safety and mental health. These high energy use businesses can start saving right away with a smart LED lighting strategy.

1. Grocery Stores

A typical 40,000 square-foot grocery store can spend up to $230,000 each year on energy costs. Up to 77% of this cost is spent on lighting and refrigeration

The average person goes to the grocery store nearly 2 times per week and spends about 45 minutes shopping. Lighting is extremely important to a customer’s impression of a grocery store. The right lighting can make food look fresher and more appealing to shoppers which increases sales.

Employee areas like stock rooms, break rooms and loading docks consume significant energy as well. Lights in these places are often left on around the clock so that work areas are always well lit. But when staff is reduced after hours, this can create an unnecessary expense. One easy fix is switching to low energy LED lighting and installing sensors to ensure lights are only in use when employees are present.

In addition to interior lighting, exterior building lighting and parking lot lighting are also a huge expense. Lighting these areas properly ensures a safe and pleasant experience for customers. Depending on exposure and the time of year, not every area needs to be lit the same way at all times. However, determining the right lighting schedule and pattern is something that many grocery store managers and owners won’t tackle, in favor instead of leaving lights on 24/7 so there’s never a dull moment for customers. This creates unnecessarily high energy costs.

The great news is that a commercial lighting retrofit in a grocery store can often reduce energy consumption by up to 50%. This can be as simple as installing motion sensors and LED fixtures throughout the store.  

2. Car Dealerships

If you’ve ever driven near an auto-park after dark, It’s no surprise that car dealerships are one of the highest energy use businesses. Bright, reliable lighting is essential to showcasing inventory and grabbing customers’ attention 24/7.

Annually a car dealership will typically use up to 18% more energy than a commercial building. Lighting costs are a large part of this. Just a 10% reduction in overall energy use could result in more than $193 million in savings across the industry.

Showroom lighting, lot lighting and service area lighting all require a different approach. Energy Star recommends making some simple LED swaps like:

  • Updating mobile task lighting in shop areas to solid state LED lights that are resistant to impacts
  • Replacing T12 fluorescents with tubular LEDs
  • Upgrading to dimmable LEDs in the customer waiting area

With the right LED lighting partner, it’s easy for car dealerships to start saving now on lighting costs. One dealership was able to reduce their utility costs from $30,000 to less than $7,000 per year and virtually eliminated maintenance costs by switching to LED lighting throughout their property.

3. Hotels

With 24/7 activity, 365 days a year, hotels are one of the highest energy use businesses. Lighting and HVAC are responsible for nearly half of a hotel’s total energy costs. In addition to common areas like lobbies, elevator banks, parking structures, pool decks and restaurants, hotels have to consider their guests’ in-room behaviors as well. It’s estimated that hotels spend $2,196 per room per year on energy costs alone.

Simple guest room upgrades like motion sensors can prevent unnecessary energy costs that result when guests leave the lights on after leaving their room. Reducing energy use per room by just 10% across a hotel property can have the same effect as raising the per-night room rate by $1.35.

Switching to LED lighting across the entire property can also significantly reduce utility costs. Hotels with attached parking lots and structures can save significantly by upgrading parking area lighting to LED fixtures that use less energy and last 50 times longer than traditional bulbs. By making the switch to LED bulbs in all guest rooms at once, hotels can also reduce their maintenance costs by avoiding constant bulb replacements across the property.

In areas with around-the-clock usage, like lobbies and elevator banks, LED lighting can reduce eyestrain for front desk employees and can be less harsh for guests arriving after dark.

4. Parking Structures

There are more than 40,000 garages and surface parking lots around the country, and most of these are designed with fluorescent lighting that operates 24 hours a day. This continual operation means parking structures are one of the high energy use businesses that can start saving right now with the right lighting choices.  

Parking structures often account for at least 20% of the overall energy used by a business and may use as much energy per square foot as commercial buildings, according to the Department of Energy.

A typical three- to four-level parking structure uses a minimum of 250 fluorescent tube lights. Simply swapping these out to LED bulbs can save over $3,600 in utility costs. In five years, these annual savings total more than $18,000.  

LED lighting has many benefits for parking structures such as:

  • It can provide better visibility for drivers by adjusting to ambient light throughout the day.
  • Sensors can be used to reduce lighting in unoccupied areas automatically.
  • Customers and employees will feel safer in a reliably lit parking structure.  
Use LED Lighting to Start Saving Now

Energy costs are a significant part of any business’s operating expenses. As sustainable energy trends continue to emerge, making the switch to LED lighting is something any business can immediately take advantage of. Businesses that switch to LED lighting can save up to 60% on their lighting costs. Click here to download our Commercial LED Lighting Guide and learn more about how your business can start saving now with LED lighting-as-a-service.

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Published by Daniel Gold July 9, 2020
Daniel Gold