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Commercial HVAC, Commercial Kitchen, Commercial Refrigeration

Low-Cost & No-Cost Energy Saving Tips for Restaurants

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Last Updated on February 26, 2018


Energy saving tips for restaurants

If you’re interested in reducing energy usage and costs, you’ve come to the right place. There are plenty of energy saving tips for restaurants that lower energy consumption and your bills. Here’s the good news: not all energy saving tips for restaurants require a huge capital outlay.

First, let’s take a closer look at the root of the problem.

Commercial kitchens are energy guzzlers

For restaurants, the commercial kitchen is the most energy-intensive part of business operations.

On average, restaurants use five-to-seven times more energy per-square-foot than other commercial spaces. Here’s an even more remarkable statistic from the U.S. Department of Energy’s ENERGY STAR program: high-volume, quick-serve restaurants may use ten times more energy than other commercial buildings.

As a restaurant owner or a food service manager, these numbers will undoubtedly grab your attention. Here’s what you can do to reduce your energy use without laying out a lot of cash.

Energy saving tips for restaurants: get employees on board

If you want to run an energy efficient restaurant, it’s critical to get everyone on board. You can have tons of great energy savings ideas, but those plans are useless if not executed by your staff.

How do you get your employees engaged in an energy efficient buildings initiative? First, educate them on how to save energy in a restaurant. Energy conservation is just not on some people’s radar and they will participate in an energy reduction plan once they understand the environmental and financial benefits.

Why not host an “Energy Efficiency in Restaurants” seminar to acclimate the staff on energy savings tips for restaurants? You can provide rewards to employees who show the most initiative. Signs reminding employees to shut off kitchen equipment and lights can also be helpful.

NO COST energy saving tips for restaurants

Here are some simple energy savings tips for restaurants that only require the cooperation of your staff to effectuate:

  • Do not leave refrigerator doors open. Each time a door opens, up to 30-percent of cooled air escapes.
  • Make sure the insulation seal and doors are in good operational order.
  • Keep refrigerator temperatures between 36 and 38 degrees. Check the manufacturer’s recommendation for freezer settings.
  • Make sure refrigerators are not over-stuffed so the air can circulate more freely.
  • Clean the refrigerator coils so the compressor operates efficiently.
  • Do not preheat ovens longer than necessary. Shut oven doors to prevent heat from escaping.
  • Shut off ovens and other appliances when not in use. You can save $600 annually by using broilers three fewer hours daily and save $1,450 annually by shutting off a mid-sized fryer thee additional hours daily.
  • Use lids on pots.
  • Keep burners clean.
  • Make sure all appliances are in proper working order to increase energy efficiency.
  • Only run a full dishwasher.

More tips: The NYC Restaurant’s Guide to Energy Savings

Energy savings tips for restaurants: benefits outweigh costs

According to ENERGY STAR, food preparation accounts for 35-percent of energy consumption at a restaurant; refrigeration, 6-percent; lighting 13-percent, sanitation, 18-percent, and HVAC, 28-percent.
There are some relatively low-cost energy savings tips for restaurants that will significantly reduce energy consumption.

By switching from incandescent bulbs to compact fluorescent bulbs, you can decrease energy usage by 75-percent, plus the bulbs last ten times longer.

The installation of ENERGY STAR-rated appliances requires a capital outlay, but will save energy and lower your utility bills. ENERGY STAR-rated commercial refrigerators and freezers use up to 30-percent less electricity than standard models. What will this mean to you when you’re looking at the average restaurant utilities cost for the year? A glass door refrigerator saves $70 in electricity and a solid door refrigerator, $55. The freezers’ savings are even more – $325 annually for a glass door model and $175 for a solid freezer.

Energy savings tips for restaurants: HVAC improvements yield a significant savings opportunity

No research on how to save energy at a restaurant would be complete without assessing your HVAC system. If HVAC accounts for the highest portion of energy consumption at restaurants, you could probably guess HVAC improvements represent the biggest energy savings opportunity. Here are a few examples.

If you adjust your thermostat by one degree, you can save 4 to 5 percent in energy usage.

Smart thermostats and controls can take human forgetfulness out of the equation. Automated settings ensure proper temperature adjustments when your restaurant is unoccupied.

By installing demand ventilation controls, you can lower your exhaust system costs by 30 to 50-percent. These controls adjust exhaust fan speeds to match ventilation needs.

Learn more: Essential Equipment for Commercial Kitchens: HVAC Make Up Unit

Energy savings tips for restaurants: don’t overlook HVAC maintenance

Routine maintenance is key to the efficient operation of your HVAC system. Preventative maintenance includes inspecting your system for operational deficiencies that could cause energy usage and utility bills to escalate. Your HVAC expert will make sure coils are clean, replace filters and check the condition of ducts, fans, belts and the refrigerant charge for leaks and much more.

Learn more: Cleaning Refrigeration Coils: 10 Things to Know

A reputable HVAC company like Arista Air can offer energy savings tips for restaurants and help you design a plan to reduce energy costs at your establishment.

For more information on how to pick an HVAC company to take care of your restaurant’s HVAC needs, check out our free guide: The NYC Restaurant Owner’s Guide to Choosing an HVAC Company.

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