Programmed for Savings
Specialty bedding retailer Mattress Firm has reduced its utility costs by more than $1 million by using an automated energy management system to control its HVAC and lighting.
The Houston-based chain first installed the technology, Lightstat Energy Management System (from Lightstat, Pleasant Valley, Conn.) in 2009, in a 51-store pilot in three markets: Houston, San Antonio and Cincinnati. The system, fully programmable from a centralized Web server, allows corporate facilities to control multiple locations across a large geographic region. Such control can help retailers better manage rising utility costs.
“When lighting and HVAC are controlled locally at the facility level, we have no control to affect those (utility) costs,” explained Sammy Butera national manager construction & facilities, Mattress Firm, which has 700 locations nationwide. “The HVAC systems, for example, were frequently left turned down as low as the thermostat would allow even after the sales associate left in the evening. We decided to control as many functions as we could with an affordable system that could afford us a 12-month payback.”
Mattress Firm tested the Lightstat system for one month, using it to control heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC), interior lighting and exterior signage. It subsequently compared the test stores’ utility bills against their bills in the year-ago period. The savings were significant enough for the retailer to move forward.
As to why Mattress Firm selected the Lightstat system, Butera said the chain was confident that it would provide the most control with the most cost-efficient installation. Although the system works through software licensed by Lightstat, it is housed on Mattress Firm’s own server.
The system’s ease of use was another factor.
“We recognized that the Lightstat team were the right partners to move forward with, and we’ve been extremely happy with the service and knowledge they have afforded us,” Butera added.
Mattress Firm installed the Lightstat system in 245 stores between May and September 2010.
“We completed another retrofit in 2011, bringing our current store count on Lightstat to 530 locations,” Butera said. “We make case-by-case decisions on whether to retrofit acquisitions.”
The system is also specified for new construction.
As to the biggest advantage of the system, Butera pointed to the cost savings.
“We experienced 19% to 30% savings on our utility costs, saving the company approximately $1 million in the first full year of operation,” he said. “The savings will increase as more stores come online.”
The ability to controls lights and HVAC from a central corporate facility is also an important benefit.
“We simply login from any PC and then click on a store location, which allows us to view the status of each HVAC unit, the current temperature in the store and the air temperature at the unit itself,” Butera explained.
The system also alerts Butera to any mechanical failures in the system by sending an email to his Blackberry.
“In addition, we can view and change schedules for on and off times for lights and building signs with the click of a button,” he said. “Temperature settings for heat and cooling can be easily changed as well. E-stats can be controlled or programmed individually or in groups or markets.”
Other important benefits include low cost of installation and operation.