Consider the light bulb.

In recent years, the federal government has tried to convince Americans that a modern $3.50 compact fluorescent bulb is actually more economical in the long run than a four-pack of 99-cent incandescent bulbs. One bulb fits in one socket, and 99 cents is less than $3.50, so this argument seems counter-intuitive. Yet the $3.50 bulb will burn much longer, and consume much less energy over a longer life span than four of its 99-cent counterparts. The overall cost savings outweighs the higher first cost.

The same argument holds true for cloud-based Energy Management Systems (EMS). Until recently, low-cost EMS was too expensive for most retailers with stores under 20,000 square feet to purchase. But costs have dropped significantly. Now, it’s well within reach for nearly any retail location — for about the cost of a programmable thermostat.

And like the compact fluorescent bulb we mentioned earlier, cloud EMS is an investment that will yield significant cost and operational benefits down the road.

How so?

Cloud EMS saves you money through strategic energy reduction. Cloud EMS offers facility management pros like you absolute control of every thermostat in every store, and done very easily. You can control whether a thermostat gets dialed down in a store within a cold region of the country, or whether a thermostat gets dialed up in a store within a hot region — and that control extends to every day and night of the year.

For example, you can program cloud EMS to adjust store temperatures up or down during days that your stores are closed, saving even more money during days when normal heating and cooling aren’t required. Sure, it’s a day or two here and there. But those add up — especially when you’re heating and cooling dozens, or even hundreds, of stores. Retailers face operational budget cuts nearly every year, so they’re increasingly recognizing that these incremental energy savings are actually big-money savings, and often pay for the cost of the EMS solution by themselves.

Cloud EMS saves you money by slashing the high cost of emergency calls. As we mentioned in our last EMS blog, cloud EMS operates via management by exception. If you have lots of stores, you don’t need to manage each store’s HVAC unit constantly with cloud EMS. Rather, EMS will signal you when a particular unit is not performing according to predetermined benchmarks. By being aware of equipment issues early on, you can schedule a normal service call and pay your technician normal service rates for that call, rather than emergency rates. This allows you to fix problems before they become catastrophes. And since typical emergency calls cost $800, you could pay for one low-cost EMS through that savings alone.

Cloud EMS helps you monitor your Preventive Maintenance (PM) success. With PM, you’re paying an outside service provider like CLS Facility Services to perform PM, usually quarterly. As an example, let’s suppose one of your HVAC units in Dallas is slated for service this month. You’d think that after the technician arrives on site, cleans the coil and possibly replaces the filter, this unit would perform measurably better.

By programming your cloud EMS to specifically monitor this unit, you’ll know whether it in fact does perform measurably better — or, whether it experiences any issues after the PM was performed. This helps you verify that your PM is delivering as it should deliver, and that you’re getting what you’re paying for. It’s a soft advantage of low-cost EMS, but it’s an advantage nonetheless.

For many retailers, the holiday season is by far the busiest season all year. So when your store is churning sales in December, the last thing you need is an HVAC breakdown. Cold customers tend to turn cold shoulders, so the impact of that breakdown on sales and revenue, when compared to the very modest up-front cost of cloud EMS, is too large to ignore.

For all the reasons we described above, we think cloud EMS is a very wise investment. And for peace of mind during the busy holiday selling season, it’s icing on the cake.

If you’re interested in learning more, we’ll work with you to evaluate your HVAC needs and determine a sensible strategy for integrating cloud EMS throughout your stores. If you want to learn more about CLS, a facility management company, please call us at 800-548-3542.