How We Reduced our Electrical Usage by 9% in One Year

By: David Lester, General Manager
“A business that promotes environmental and financial sustainability.”
This End statement, or ongoing goal of the Co-op, is one that has had our particular attention this past year. In the Fall of 2013 we began working with Decorah Electric on our solar roof project and other in-store energy saving enhancements. With a $25,000 rebate from Alliant Energy, Federal and State of Iowa tax credits and a generous gift from Co-op members George and JoAnn Hagen, this project had a zero-year payback. In other words, our 20,000 watt solar array began paying for itself right away. Grocery stores are big users of electricity, because we have a lot of refrigeration and freezer needs to keep our products from spoiling. Also, it takes a lot of energy to maintain a comfortable atmosphere in our 9,000 square-foot store for our customers. A nine percent reduction in electrical costs for us equals over $4,000 in annual energy savings.

Here are a few other major energy savings measures we’ve implemented in 2014:
• Converted all freezer and refrigerated cases to LED lights.
• Installed night shades on several open coolers.
• Began converting open coolers to super high efficient glass-door cases with LED lights.
• Installed occupancy sensors in offices and basement rooms.
• Increased efficiency in our tunnel heat recovery system to reduce heating costs.

We became an Energy Star certified building with the E.P.A. in 2011 and we have maintained a 96 out of 99 rating since we received this status. That 96 rating is very high and we are the highest Energy Star rated grocery store in the state of Iowa. And, in the next few months, we will be featured as a model small-business on the E.P.A’s Energy Star website…woo hoo! It is rewarding to work at a business that has as one of its goals “environmental and financial sustainability.” It is definitely a group effort here at the Co-op with members, board members and staff engaging and challenging each other to be better stewards to the world in which we do business. We do not take our resources for granted, and we are always searching for ways to improve our business practices and sell products from growers with this same goal.