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No one wants to shop in a hot and humid store. And icy temps can send would-be customers in search of warmer shops. Here are a few steps you can take to ease the pressure on your HVAC system and lower your energy usage while keeping your store comfortable.

1. Update Your Lighting

If you’re still using fluorescent lights in your storefront, it’s time to make the switch to modern LED lighting. LED lights may cost more upfront, but you’ll save money in the long run thanks to their added durability and longer life span. LEDs last more than twice as long as modern compact fluorescents and nearly 25 times as long as incandescent bulbs, according to the Energy Department. Plus, LEDs don’t emit UV radiation or heat—keeping your storefront safe and cool.

2. Maximize Your Lighting

Switching to LEDs is a great first step toward reducing light energy in your store. But there are a few more things you can do:

  • Install dimmer switches to lower the light levels in your store. Bright, harsh lights can be unflattering and off-putting. Dimming the lights not only saves energy but is more welcoming and comfortable for shoppers.
  • Turn off the lights when the store is closed. This includes display lights. There’s no need to light the space when it’s not in use.
  • Make use of natural light whenever possible. Install daylight sensors to automatically adjust light levels based on the amount of natural light in the store.

3. Protect Your Windows

Large storefront windows are inviting, but when the sun streams in they can heat your storefront like an oven and force your AC to work overtime. Invest in sun control window films or shades to block harmful UV rays, reduce sun glare, and maximize the natural light without the added heat.

4. Make Your HVAC System More Efficient

A heating and cooling system accounts for nearly half of a typical brick-and-mortar store’s energy usage. In addition to lowering the strain on your HVAC system, there are a few things you can do to maximize its efficiency:

  • Clean and replace HVAC filters regularly. Cleaning or replacing a dirty, clogged filter can lower your AC’s energy consumption by up to 15%.
  • Use a programmable thermostat. There’s no need to excessively heat or cool the space when no one is using it. Using a programmable thermostat, you can create heating and cooling schedules around store hours and peak occupancy times.
  • Use different settings for different spaces. Your stockrooms and back offices don’t need the same temperature settings as your storefront. Keep these peripheral rooms at minimum settings to minimize energy use.

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5. Install Ceiling Fans

Air movement can make hot temperatures and high humidity feel much more comfortable and reduce the strain on your AC unit. Ceiling fans eliminate stagnant air, making for a more pleasant shopping experience overall. If the temperature outside feels better than the temperature in your store, use box or window fans to pull comfortable air into your space.

6. Seal Doors and Windows

Air leaks in your doors and windows can result in heating and cooling loss. On hot days, all that cool air your AC unit worked so hard to produce goes right out the window—literally. During colder months, cold air seeps under the door and through the windows, causing your HVAC system to work harder than it has to. Proper weather stripping around doors and windows can help prevent leaks and maintain comfortable store temperatures.

7. Power Down at the End of the Day

Turn off computers, printers, displays, TVs, and even vending machines when you close for the day. Computer monitors alone use about 100 watts of power per workday, which adds up quickly if the monitor is left on overnight and on weekends. Additionally, some devices will continue to draw a small amount of power, even when switched off. Use a power strip to completely cut off power to appliances and electronics.

8. Partner with Nearby Businesses

Connect with neighboring businesses to learn more about their energy challenges, their strategies for reducing energy use, and the energy providers they work with. Share your energy-saving tips and work together to find the best solutions. When we all take steps to reduce energy consumption, the world benefits.

9. Commit to Tackling Climate Change

Small businesses have a critical role to play in combating climate change—and it’s going to take more than weather stripping and LED bulbs. Sign the SME Climate Commitment to take your first big step toward bettering the planet and your business. Businesses that make the commitment agree to take action immediately toward reducing greenhouse gas emissions. You can help by assessing your supply chain, switching to sustainable packaging, and getting eco-certified.

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