Go Green, Save Green

How one retail chain saved $20,000 annually by turning to energy efficiency.

By Ali Farsai, Contributing Editor

Our family has been in the gas station and convenience store business for over 25 years and the past few years, as we are all painfully aware, business has been down. We have had to think “outside the box” to generate positive cash flow. That led me to incorporating energy efficiency improvements at all four of our sites. Over the past 18 months I’ve done extensive research on the best way to spend our money and I’ve been able to generate return on investments (ROI) upwards of 50% and we are saving over $5,000 annually at each store.

Compare the Edison bill and usage at our model am/pm Anaheim site to your own store’s bill to see the potential for savings for your own am/pm. The most important number to look at on your bill is your average daily kWH usage. Rates are different in different seasons and some bills are for longer than others but by looking at the daily kWh usage, you can better understand the potential savings.

With a typical rate for a Gas Station/Convenience Store (13 cents/kWh), every reduction of 21 kWh/daily equates to a $1,000 in annual savings. In 2011 our daily average was 548 kWh, down from 660 in 2010, and 704 in 2009 equating to over $7,000 in annual savings. Ask yourself ”what was your daily/kWh average last year?”

Every owner can benefit from learning about the technological advancements in lighting and refrigeration. The forward thinking owners are able to mitigate the pain of rising utility costs by taking advantage of energy efficiency. With summer just around the corner, don’t continue to pay $4,000 – $5,000 monthly in utility bills.

There are two major components to energy efficiency at am/pms–Refrigeration and Lighting. For now, I will focus on lighting. Specifically, there are two things you can do to save you thousands.

1) Replacing Metal Halide Bulbs with high-tech Magnetic Induction Canopy lights.
* Rebates Offered by Utility to Install: Up to $50/Bulb.
* Potential ROI: 30-50%.
* A 10-Year Savings Potential of $20,000-$30,000.

2) Replacing your cooler door T8 bulbs with certain high-performance LED lights.
* Rebates Offered by Utility to Install: Up to $50/Door.
* Potential ROI: 30 – 50%.
* Five-Year Savings Potential: $4,000 – $5,000.

Fullerton am/pm forecourt after upgrading to energy efficient magnetic induction lighting.

am/pm forecourt using inefficient and inconsistent metal halide lighting.

Consider that every year, your utility rates are increasing and your utility bill is becoming a larger portion of the operational budget. With Federal and State Governments passing laws to reduce and tax our energy usage combined with rising energy costs, rates will inevitably continue to rise. Owners need to think of better ways to save money than simply cutting payroll and working longer hours themselves. Turn your lighting needs into an asset for your business for years to come.

Ali Farsai and his family own and operate four ampm stores in Los Angeles and Orange counties. He is also a licensed energy efficiency contractor for GreenCStore.com. He can be reached at ali@greencstore.com.



  1. How much did each store upgrade cost you? I have a small liquor store in the Bay area and we are paying over 20 cents with P G & E and my monthly bill is between $1,200 – $2,000 every month. I don’t have canopy lights, but I do have freezer lights I’ve been thinking of upgrading.

  2. Hi Mike,

    Costs vary depending on how many lights you need upgraded and how big your walk-in cooler is. It’s like asking “how long is a piece of string”? I can tell you I know that PG & E offers $100/cooler door for LED Lighting which makes it a great ROI.

    If you were on the fence on LED cooler door lighting…don’t be. It’s the best capital investment you can make at your store that will guarantee ROI as long as they on!

  3. Ali and Mike-
    There’s an additional, inexpensive, way to save money on your refrig. / freezer electrical bills. Have you considered installing a temperature monitoring system with a door ajar alarm? Our customers have reduced their energy bills by installing our equipment. I work for Modularm Corporation and we’ve manufactured this type of equipment since 1980. Our website is http://www.modularm.com. You can also visit us on facebook http://www.facebook.com/modularm. Phone # 631-864-3860. – email: marketing@modularm.com. Thanks in advance.

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