Retailer scores big savings through energy efficiency - News | 110% Green

Retailer scores big savings through energy efficiency

20 January 2017
No-cost and low-cost actions earn Ackermans savings of R18.6m a year
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In 2013 Ackermans, together with UGU Engineering Solutions, launched an initiative that would help reduce the retailer’s electricity costs and achieve the highest possible return on investment through reducing energy consumption.

The project, titled SWATT (Save WATTs) focused on assessing technology, control mechanisms and behaviour relating to energy usage in Ackermans stores located in South Africa, Namibia, Lesotho, Swaziland and Botswana.

The installation of energy-efficient light fittings and online meters were key to the campaign, as well as educating staff about the importance of saving electricity.


A change in behaviour can lead to a reduction in your electricity bill. The following strategies were put in place to encourage smart energy habits among Ackermans’ employees: 

  • Awareness (making stores accountable)
  • Reducing wastage (changing air-conditioning temperatures; boiling only as much water as needed)
  • Communication plan (training and competitions; visual reminders to save electricity throughout the working environment, like stickers; making use of Ackermans' personalised radio station to drive awareness and momentum)
  • Switch Off Something (SOS – switching off electrical components when not in use, such as the back area lights)


Ackermans invested in energy-efficient equipment to conserve energy. These include:

  • Changing old technology with new technology (38 169 light fittings were installed; 58 265 old technology fittings removed; 147 530 old lamps were crushed)
  • Spacing light-fittings more efficiently to reduce total quantity
  • Simplifying lighting specifications (from 24 to only 7 types of fittings)
  • Introducing new energy-efficient lights (T5)
  • Installing 1900 light switches (helped reduce the energy load by switching off areas not in use)


An online metering system was installed at each store. This helped with:

  • Verifying theoretical baseline calculations
  • Benchmarking (online meters enable Ackermans to calculate the W/m² rate per store and averages)
  • Accuracy (electricity accounts vs. actuals can be audited)
  • Support for ongoing energy management
  • Auditing and verifying correct rates and tariffs
  • Accurate budgeting and forecasting

The initial investment in the project was R33.4 million, and the retailer received a R15-million rebate from power utility Eskom. Project SWATT helped the retailer slice its South African stores' electricity bill in half, which equates to cost savings of about R18.6 million a year. The combined saving of electricity in its South African stores alone resulted in a saving of 14 million kWh per year – enough to power 1200 homes! Take a look at how this impacts other areas:


The measurable success of SWATT has earned the retailer numerous awards, including the 2014 Eskom eta Award, the 2015 African Utility Award and the 2016 EE Forum Award.

Energy efficiency means using electricity more efficiently or in reduced amounts – doing the same with less – either through behaviour change and/or newer technology usage. The Western Cape Government has lots of tips to help you save energy, divided into no-cost, low-cost and invest-to-save options. Visit Become energy efficient

Information: Ackermans, Africa Energy Journal

Images provided by Ackermans