I was walking last night in Jackson Heights, a vibrant and diverse community in Queens, NYC. It was a warm night, and as I walked past every storefront, I was greeted by a frosty cold blast. While it felt nice, I thought to myself, “Why do stores leave their front doors wide open? Do they know how much energy they’re wasting? Do they know open doors cost more?”
Starting this summer, nearly all shops and restaurants in New York City are required to keep front doors and windows shut while their air-conditioners and cooling systems are operating. This practice seems like common sense, but the law seems rarely enforced.
It’s in the business owner’s interest to practice this rule put in place by the de Blasio administration. First, if and when the law is actually enforced, shop owners who violate the rules would face fines, ranging from $250 for a first offense to as much as $1,000 for an egregious violation. Second, the real reason any business owner should not do this is because it costs more in energy—much more. A report by the Long Island Power Authority found that stores that leave their doors open while cooling systems are on can use up to 25 percent more electricity during the summer months.
Last year, the NYC Department of Consumer Affairs started the Shut the Front Door! Campaign, launched in an effort to educate business owners of the benefits of keeping their doors closed while cooling. This is part of an effort to help them reach the goal of reducing carbon emissions by 80 percent by 2050.
When a business leaves its doors open with a cooling system running, large amounts of cool air escape, forcing the system to expend more energy and produce more emissions to maintain the temperature. According to Con Edison, if just one business closes its doors during the summer, it can prevent the unnecessary release of more than 2.5 tons of carbon dioxide, save five barrels of oil, and save more than $1,000 on electricity bills.
While it does seem enticing for businesses to greet their customers with the cool taste of a respite from the high temperatures outside, it’s still better for a business’s bottom line to keep the doors closed while operating in the summer.