Small Box Energy works hand in hand with several convenience store chains and we know that just like restaurants they are in desperate need to lower their energy bills as well as reduce their carbon footprints. With convenience stores expending 57% of their energy usage in refrigeration and 22% in lighting, something more than switching to led lighting is necessary to make a significant change in their energy bills. Convenience stores face a whole different set of problems than that of a restaurant. While only some restaurants operate 24/7 almost all convenience stores and gas stations do. That is where the extensive use of lighting comes into play.
Along with lighting, refrigeration is a convenience store number one energy consumer. That high energy expenditure can be attributed to the number of reach in coolers that are in these locations. Small Box Energy worked with a client to put together a case study that assessed and provided solutions to all of the above-listed issues.
Automation is critical to savings in most cases, streamlining process where a human is usually involved removes the human factor and decreases errors that exist due to that interaction. In this particular convenience store, we installed adaptive controllers for their walk-in coolers and freezers, programmable thermostats, and lighting controls for interior and exterior lighting. The adaptive controllers installed on the walk-in refrigerators and freezers do more than monitor the temperature in the space, they learn from the environment they are in and decrease the number of defrosts a unit completes. This action alone cuts down on energy consumption dramatically. Most refrigeration units are set to defrost at specific time intervals no matter if the environment requires it or not. This expends a tremendous amount of energy that is just not needed.
Programmable thermostats in this particular location were locked at the store level so that any adjustments made locally would not reflect on the thermostat or in the chameleon system. Settings like these are completely customizable with chameleon. Depending on the business needs we can completely lock out users at a local level or adjustments can be made with a 1 to the 2-degree difference, then return to designated setpoint. The best part about chameleon™ is that it is that it completely blends in with your business and it’s flow.
The Lighting controls in this environment were installed to control interior and exterior lighting. The employees could alter the state of the lights from the application on-site or remotely from any mobile device using our application. An astronomical clock was used to automatically adjust for daily changes in dawn and dusk times so that nobody in the location has to worry about changing the lighting schedule. This multi-zone controller Small Box Energy uses, “stair-steps” lighting loads during peak demand periods so that energy consumption is reduced.
Results Are In
The specific convenience store I am referencing saved around $6,420 annually at one location. Before the chameleon system was installed in the location the kWh consumption was at 278,964 and after the chameleon system was installed the consumption went down to 241,542.
In addition to the energy savings chameleon also provided savings in imminent loss of inventory when walk-in refrigeration units were approaching high temperatures and alerts were sent to management to take action. Preventative maintenance analytics also proved helpful when an email alert was sent to staff regarding a potential mechanical problem with the walk-in freezer so that the unit could be fixed, avoiding costly, more extensive repairs.
Automation systems can save convenience stores anywhere from 10% – 30% in energy monthly. The added benefits that go hand in hand with an energy management system is the increased visibility into your day to day operations. Knowing when your freezer door is open, and knowing which shift is consistently changing that temperature in the store can help you correct behavior and ultimately save you money. A huge benefit that comes with the added visibility into your critical systems is the preventative maintenance analytics. The data collected from your HVAC and refrigeration can help identify future problems before they cost you thousands to repair a severe problem. That’s another blog topic for another day!