As a retailer trying to cut down on energy usage (and bills), it can be hard to see past costly investments lurking between you and energy-efficient business. Large-scale changes, like installing energy-efficient lighting or creating a secure building envelope, are important steps towards reducing your carbon footprint; but they aren’t the only changes that will serve to make your business more efficient and increase your bottom line.

What are plug and process loads?

Plug and Process Loads (PPls) are building loads (energy suckers) that plug into the wall and are unrelated to general lighting, heating, ventilation, cooling, and water heating. These devices do not typically provide comfort to occupants and can easily be reduced in order to save on energy. In fact, according to ENERGY STAR, reducing loads that cut down on operational time or the intensity of HVAC equipment in can lead to significant savings for your business.

Where can I find plug and process load savings in my retail store?

Believe it or not, equipment such as cash registers, computers, and copiers represent about 20% of the electricity used in retail establishments. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) reports that PPLs account for 33% of U.S. commercial building electricity consumption. In California, office equipment alone accounts for 74% of plug load energy usage, reports Ecos, who, after conducting a detailed study, also found that desktop computers are the single largest plug load electricity users, consuming 68% of plug load energy use in small offices.

All these numbers add up to one fact; retailers need to be more aware of which tools need to be disconnected before they can start saving on energy costs. So, which are the most common plug and process loads in retail buildings? Some of the biggest energy suckers include: cash registers; demagnetizers; barcode scanners; conveyor belts; vending machines; refrigerators; self-service kiosks; electronics section; televisions; radios; computers; clocks; monitors; task lights; phones; and printers, scanners, copiers and fax machines.

Steps you can take to reduce your load

When it comes to lowering the energy consumed by some of the biggest energy suckers in the building, sometimes all it takes is literally, pulling the plug. Or in the case of computers that are frequently left running (or in idle mode) overnight and on weekends, powering off before leaving the office.

What else can you do to cut down on your plug and process loads? First of all, make the most of the machinery and technology you have! If your company has invested in a power management system, use it to its full capability and set controls to be as aggressive, and as energy-efficient, as possible. The next step is to purchase practical, energy-efficient equipment. Focus on ENERGY STAR products that are guaranteed to be the most efficient on the market and are eligible for great rebates and incentives that can help your business make affordable changes. Not sure where to start? Try our free energy audit to get you on your way, and get personalized energy-saving recommendations, relevant to your business. Finally, shake up staff behaviour and get employees on-board with sustainable initiatives in the workplace.

Read the NREL’s full 10 step strategy to plug load reduction here!

Questions or comments about plug and process loads? Leave them below!

image credit: vitus baerentzen