By Brad Benson
With rising energy costs, climate change, and high operating costs restaurant owners and managers should look at trying to reduce their energy usage. Just a 20 percent reduction in energy costs will translate into an additional 1 percent in profit. In this post I will lay out the ways that you can reduce your energy consumption quickly and also long term solutions. The benefits not only include lower operating costs and reduced repair costs but also help the environment and can help your profile with environmentally conscience consumers. Before we get into the solutions let's see where your energy is being consumed. In a typical Restaurant Cooking, Refrigeration, Heating, Cooling, and Water Heating make up 80 percent of the energy consumed.
At 43 percent of your total electrical consumption this is one area where reduction in energy usage could have the largest return on investment. As an Hvac and Refrigeration contractor I often see restaurants upgrade their HVAC system and lighting systems (which both are great ideas) and forget about the 25 year old walk in cooler and freezer. With such a large portion of your electrical usage in this category it makes sense to look towards some energy saving solutions.
There are several easy things that you can do to start saving energy today!
Equipment replacement - Replacing your equipment with new energy star rated equipment can correlate into 67% in energy savings. The new equipment available on the market today has many great features including:
Quick solutions the same as the walk in coolers make sure that your gaskets are good and that the doors shut properly. Don't overload it as it needs air flow from top to bottom inside. Don't push it back into an alcove make sure that it has room to breath and expel heat. Last but not least Preventative Maintenance clean that condenser regularly.
Of course you know what I'm going to say replace it. Before you start looking on the internet for new equipment you should talk to your local refrigeration service contractor. They can tell you which equipment is going to be more efficient but also what is going to be the most reliable. Don't take the word of the salesman. We work on these we know what is junk and what is good equipment. I can't compete with the internet or the giant restaurant supply stores and I don't even try I quit selling reach in coolers years ago. I just want my customers to get the best piece of equipment for their budget. Do your research and seek professional advice you will be much happier with your purchase in the long run. ECM condenser fan motors can be installed on most makes and models of reach in coolers.
Equipment Replacement - The new ice machines are very efficient and have greater production most will make a batch of ice in 12 minutes vs. 20 minutes or longer in older machines. Consider switching to remote condensed and get that heat out of the space that you are trying to cool.
Cooking equipment accounts for 14% of your electrical and 67% of your natural gas energy consumption.
Have a professional come in and check gas pressure on all of your gas fired equipment. Assuring proper gas pressure will make sure that your commercial cooking appliance is operating within its design range saving you on energy and also providing a safer work space for your employees.
Turn off cooking appliances that you are not using. You see this especially with Fryers sitting idle, you have 6 fryers and are during your slow time of day you can shut off 2 or 3 and still have capacity to keep up with demand. Try not to preheat your broiler to early it is the most inefficient piece of equipment that you own. If you reduce broiler run time by just 1 hour a day that could save you $450 annually. $450 dollars annually does not sound like a lot of money but consider this if your restaurant operates with a profit margin of around 5% you would need about $9000 worth of sales to earn $450.
According to the department of energy replacing your older equipment with new energy star rated equipment will result in energy savings up to 30%. Buying good Quality equipment and maintaining it properly should give you 20 years of energy savings and reliability.
New hood systems have new technology which makes them very energy efficient. They can be set up with:
At 11% of electrical and 15% of natural gas consumption heating and cooling of your building is a large part of your energy consumption.
Water heating accounts for 18% of your total natural gas consumption.