(WHAS11) -- With hot temperatures and drought conditions, summer has been tough on American households. Imagine what your food and energy costs would be if you ran a 27,000 square foot supermarket.
Baltimore's Bel-Garden Bi-Rite has been locally owned and operated for almost 50 years. Raising prices is not owner Sandy Vary's favorite option. She knows her customers are watching costs too. With energy consultant BJ Elliott, she helped make her store "green."
Elliott helped Vary identify a couple of key areas or opportunities to improve her store. One of them was her general overall energy consumption and another was humidity.
They traded a 20-ton air conditioning unit, for a new system that uses salt water to cool air and suck out humidity. This allows Vary to keep the overall temperature of the store higher and leave it cool where it counts, like in frozen food cases.
Perishable items, meat items and produce items stay fresh for a longer period of time with less humidity. Vary says it has helped her stay in business.
Vary estimates that she will save up to $35,000 in energy costs this year, keeping store prices lower, and a little more green in shoppers' wallets.