Free Money For Energy Efficiency

By Ali Farsai

Savvy owners realize that on their utility bill, they are paying for energy efficiency in the form of utility taxes and fees.


If you are paying to subsidize a program, you should also take advantage of its benefits before they run out of funding. Funding on all energy efficiency programs are constantly changing and will eventually run out or require stricter guidelines for eligibility. You want to be part of the first wave of free money, not the last one. The first wave pays better.

While most convenience store operators are focused on all the day-to-day operations (trying to maintain healthy margins, inventory, paying bills, cash flow, employee hours, etc.) they are missing the big return on investment (ROI) opportunities. Energy efficiency offers great ROIs, specifically, because of the free money provided by the utilities and government for upgrading to energy efficient lighting and refrigeration equipment.

Many c-store owners don’t even realize that they are even eligible for these thousands of dollars in rebate money to improve their lights and fridge areas. All that free rebate money makes retrofitting both cost effective and in most cases cash flow positive. See a full list of your states rebate programs at or go to your utility company Website. They will all have a section about rebates.

Virtually every year, the cost of energy rises. So it stands to reason that if you are not retrofitting your business for energy efficiency, your bills will also rise. Given these two variables, from a long-term perspective, not upgrading your store for energy efficiency today (when free money is being offered) is a tax on your business tomorrow. Reducing your consumption now, in preparation for future increased rates is just good business practice and that’s exactly what savvy c-store operators are doing during these trying economic days.

At my store in Anaheim, Calif., my utility company (Southern California Edison) offered me $2,975 in free rebate money. I used that money toward energy efficiency retrofits that provided me with an ROI of 41% and is now saving me over $7,000 annually on my bill at that store. Learn how to turn energy efficiency into an asset for your c-store by continuing to follow this blog.

Ali Farsai and his family have owned and operated convenience stores for over 25 years in Los Angeles and Orange Counties. When the economy turned he used his contracting license to retrofit his family stores for energy efficiency. Since then he has saved his businesses over $20,000 annually in energy costs and is now an energy efficiency contractor specifically for c-stores in Southern California. He can be reached at or you can follow him @GreenCStore




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