The restaurant industry has proven to be the prime offender when it comes to energy conservation. It consumes roughly three times the average energy consumption in comparison to other commercial businesses. With such long hours of operation, specialized industrial equipment, and the nature of their storage/preparation resources, the degree of energy consumption used by the food service industry can sometimes be excessive and even downright wasteful. Energy efficiency is critical, but how does one improve it in their restaurant?
Aside from the moral responsibility to reduce our carbon footprints, integrating efforts towards energy efficiency can also have a very positive impact on our pocket books. Luckily for us, many of these energy-saving methods require little to no cost at all! Instead, all that is required can sometimes be a change in perspective and an adjustment of habit.
Energy Efficiency Procedures:
The easiest first steps towards running an energy-efficient restaurant would be to place a sense of urgency on being green-centric within the workplace. You can share this priority with your cooks and staff through various methods. You can educate them about the impact of going green within your employee training. Alternatively, you can leave friendly reminders in places where your staff will openly see them. You can also create schedules for when to hit the power switch on different elements of energy-eaters based on your needs.
Another suggestion would be to develop the habit of tracking your energy bills and usage. Keeping an eye on these types of things can help you better understand which aspects of your daily resources might require attention and/or repair.
Keep a conscious mind for seeking any opportunities where you can create checklists and/or schedules to help keep you and your staff on track. Try setting a specific time to start up or shut down machinery. Or ensure that the lights are being used on an “as needed” basis.
The largest portion of energy usage within the restaurant industry revolves around the cooking and food preparation side of things. Of course, it is common sense to believe that purchasing energy efficient machinery with forward-thinking technology might be a good foot in the door, however that is only half the battle. It is extremely important that your equipment is frequently monitored, operated correctly and maintained for quality functioning.
The worst thing you can do is to wait until something has broken down to pull out magnifying glass or toolbox. For example, a refrigerator with a faulty door seal can use about 11% more energy than it should. Moreover, it uses up to 100% more energy if it has a leak. Yikes!
This can be avoided by implementing a regular, documented cleaning and maintenance schedule to help your equipment run longer and more efficiently. Moreover, it will help you save money on the equipment.
Since energy misuse can account to so much wasted money spent each year, here are a few more tips for the use within your restaurant:
– Use the recommended thermostat set points (each degree of cooling increases energy use by 4-5%).
– Turn off exhaust hoods whenever possible.
– Fully load your equipment for each use. For example, try filling up your dishwasher to capacity before you set it to wash.
– Purchase equipment with great insulation to better retain heat.
– Do not overload your fryer baskets, as this will increase the required cooking time.
– If the machine is on idle, turn it off.
– Do not run the AC with doors and windows open.
The selection and usage of your lighting sources can be one of the easiest and most cost-efficient ways of reducing energy consumption. Lighting, alone, can take up to approximately 11% of a restaurants energy bill and 40% of the facilities energy usage.
A few great tips include making the switch from incandescent lighting to fluorescent lighting. This change that can save you between 1/4 to 1/3 of the energy being used within your restaurant. As these lights do not generate heat, you will also be saving yourself some hard earned cash on air-conditioning!
There are also a few contributions that require minimal effort. You can turn off the lights in unoccupied areas and use light dimmers during hours of operation where daylight is efficient. Additionally, try installing occupancy sensors in less-busy spaces like closets, storage, break rooms, and customer restrooms. By taking these measures, you will save money running your restaurant.
Changing your habits can not only boost your profit line, but also protect our environment! It will not take long to find that your new focus on energy efficiency will improve profitability. Moreover, it will reduce greenhouse gas emissions, conserve our planet’s natural resources, and make you feel great about it.