My friend loves her house to be welcoming and friendly, so we all enjoy visiting. The fridge is filled with drinks, there are chocolate biscuits on the table and the tea is brewing. She keeps it cosy and warm for us, with the heating turned right up. Also, her front door is permanently open so we know we can just pop in.
Now if I really did have a friend like this, she would definitely need to have more money than sense. Her energy bills would have most of us sobbing and pleading with her to turn the thermostat down and close the door. So why we are not similarly shocked and disbelieving when we walk down the high-street?
A quick scamper through Norwich city centre reveals a scene typical around our region. Despite plummeting temperatures, more shops have their doors pinned wide open than carefully closed. As you walk down the street, you are blasted by hot air from many doorways, which quickly disappears off into the ether.
The worst offenders are shops with air curtains or overhead heaters. Using pretty ancient technology, they are meant to keep the warm air in, but research by Cambridge University shows they actually burn a vast quantity of energy. They don’t work effectively anyway, for example when someone walks through, the air currents are disrupted.
There is a myth that open doors mean higher footfall into the shop. The Close the Door Campaign aims to show that a shut door can in fact be better for business. Firstly, staff are more comfortable as opposed to freezing cold near the entrance or burning up next to the heater. Comfy employees results in a more friendly, productive atmosphere and better customer service.
Also, the overall temperature in shops is better for browsing customers as it is more constant throughout the store. Some large retailers have carried out research and proven that a closed door definitely doesn’t reduce their income; meanwhile, it can slash energy bills in half! As another bonus, shoplifting is discouraged.
I’ll be honest, when I have the pushchair in tow, I will brace myself before entering a shop with tricky looking doors. The inevitable juggle with door, buggy and bags can be annoying. However, automatic doors or, radical suggestion here, attentive staff, would solve that issue for parents, those in wheelchairs or the elderly. Help from a friendly staff member would be so much more welcoming than an open door and blast of air.
Some well know retailers have already closed their doors to this unnecessary waste. John Lewis, Marks and Spencer and Costa Coffee are some of the larger firms leading the way and many independent stores have caught on too.
As we head towards colder weather and festive spending, competition on the high-street will be hotter than an air curtain. ‘Tis the season to vote with your feet and refuse to go into shops that are needlessly wasting our precious carbon.
Meanwhile, my imaginary friend has decided to put in revolving doors instead, so her place is still very welcoming. She’s saved so much money that she’s hired a butler.
First published in the EDP and EADT