Pat Longmire has owned a grocery store in Spring Grove, Minn., for 22 years. He knows customers want fresh produce, quality meats and weekly deals that save a buck here and there.
But he wasn’t sure how customers would react after he put glass doors on the coolers in the store. Longmire didn’t have to worry for long, however. “The response was overwhelmingly positive,” he said.
Longmire used a grant from USDA Rural Development’s Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) to purchase and install the doors. The doors resulted in a savings of about $500 per month on heating, cooling and electricity bills.
“It’s the smartest thing we could have done,” he said. “You get return on your investment back quickly.”
With energy costs rising and the grocery industry trying to become more energy efficient, Longmire knew the time was now to make the upgrade.
He originally considered replacing all the coolers in the store, but decided using the REAP program to install doors on the existing coolers was a better option. The entire project was completed for what it would have cost to replace just one cooler.
Longmire set the thermostat inside the store to 72 degrees when he had open coolers. Since the doors have been added, he sets the temperature to 68 degrees and the store actually feels warmer than it did at 72.
“We were just wasting energy before,” Longmire said. “If every store across the country did what we did, the impact would be dramatic. It’s just one little thing, but it’s making everything more efficient.”
Without the REAP program, Longmire’s energy costs would have kept going up. Instead, he was able to do something about it and use the money he saves to improve his business and contribute to the local economy.
“This program really helps businesses like mine do projects like this and stay competitive,” Longmire said. “It’s great.”
USDA is currently accepting applications for funding through the REAP program. For more information click here.