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The simple plan that saved a supermarket chain millions

Posting in Energy

Imagine if your refrigerator didn't come with a door. The unnecessary energy use would be costly and your kitchen would always be cold.

Despite the obvious benefits of having a door on a refrigerator, supermarkets around the world have aisles upon aisles of refrigerated food displays without a door -- aka, the aisle we rush through to stay warm.

But one supermarket chain in the United Kingdom made the switch to replace its open refrigerators to refrigerators with doors. The Co-operative put fridge doors in 100 stores and is seeing major cost benefits. According to The Guardian, the chain is saving more than $80 million a year. The chain has 2,800 stores across the U.K. and plans to put fridge doors in all new stores and each of the 500 stores it retrofits each year.

Energy is the second largest cost for the company, behind staffing. And, as The Guardian points out, if all supermarkets in the U.K. used fridge doors it would save as much energy as twice the annual electricity output of Europe's second largest coal plant. Supermarkets in the U.K. use 5 percent of all electricity.

It's not a move that I would necessarily call innovative, just smart business. So the question is, what's holding back other supermarkets? Basically stores see this as a barrier for customers and they're afraid that sales will drop. But Dave Roberts, director of The Co-operative, says that's a myth, at least in his stores: "That was a big concern for us. But we found that because we put LED lights around the doors, customers said it brought the product to life. In no places where we have put doors on fridges have sales gone down."

Co-op supermarkets extend fridge door scheme [The Guardian]

[h/t Grist]

Photo: Flickr/ratterrell

— By on January 3, 2013, 4:54 AM PST

Tyler Falk

Contributing Editor

Tyler Falk freelance journalist based in Washington, D.C. Previously, he was with Smart Growth America and Grist. He holds a degree from Goshen College. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure