When we launched the Energy Look Out initiative a couple of months ago, inviting people to tell us examples of everyday energy wastage in Norwich, we had several comments about the practice of shops and stores wedging doors open, with the consequent huge and rapid loss of heat from inside to out. Years ago, as a Councillor, I had occasion to take up this very issue with particular shops in Norwich following complaints.
The reason that shops do this is based on the belief that the door's position influences their footfall - that rather irritating commercial term used to describe how many customers actually go into the shop. To customers, of course, the feeling of warmth once inside is more important. This also applies often to the shop workers! So here we have a nice little microcosm of what is at the heart of promoting carbon reduction generally:
- the differences in perception from one group of people to another over the same issue
- a firmly held belief that is not actually supported by evidence (see below)
- a linkage between commercial practice and public behaviour
- a widespread practice that is actually responsible for high carbon emissions and financial cost, and which does not involve any cost or investment to change
The campaign - started by 3 women in Cambridge - has now been endorsed by a number of well known politicians across the political spectrum, and has been signed up to by a range of the larger chains.
The practice of propping doors open persists, however....all the more surprising when the research carried out by Cambridge University on the energy and carbon wastage involved says shutting the door will:
Reduce energy usage by up to 50%
Cut a shop’s annual CO2 emissions by up to 10 tonnes of CO2
Maintain energy use at a standard low level
Enable heating to be shut off long before the end of the day without affecting internal temperatures
- Stop need for so-called “air curtains” over the door – among the greatest wasters of energy: a single one consumes 24 kWh per day. This is equivalent to emitting 91 kg CO2 per week.
The research found no conclusive evidence that footfall or transactions were affected by closing the shop door.(2)
I never thought I would get so excited about doors.
Pictures Top: Waterstones in Back of The Inns, who keep 2 separate doors wedged open; Middle: Jarrolds Stores, Exchange Street, who keep all their doors shut; Bottom: Oxfam in Bedford Street, who keep their door shut and display the sticker