NATIONAL REPORT—Looking to trim energy consumption and costs in the kitchen? The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Energy Star “ Commercial Food Service” Web site is not a bad place to start. The site offers guidance on finding appropriate product sizes and models and features information on the four categories of products for which EPA has established energy efficiency specifications: hot food holding cabinets; steam cookers; fryers; and solid door reach-in refrigerators, freezers and refrigerator/freezers.
Energy Star-qualified equipment is designed to use less energy and water, while continuing to provide high performance, reliability, efficiency and life-cycle cost benefits.
“In general, Energy Star-qualified products are about 30 percent more energy efficient,” says Kate Lewis, marketing manager for Energy Star.
The Energy Star Web site features detailed descriptions of the Energy Star-qualified specifications for commercial kitchen equipment. It also includes calculators designed to predict energy and cost savings of installed equipment, depending on climate. Also included are lists of the manufacturers that supply products and lists of the qualifying products identified by manufacturer and model number.
Features of Energy Star-Qualified Equipment
Hot food holding cabinets that have earned the Energy Star are 60 percent more energy efficient than standard models. Energy Star-rated cabinets must meet a maximum idle energy rate of 40 watts/ft3. This means that the cabinets are more efficient at maintaining food temperature while using less energy. Models that meet this requirement incorporate better insulation, reducing heat loss, and may also offer additional energy-saving devices such as magnetic door gaskets, auto-door closures, or dutch doors. An Energy Star-rated hot food holding cabinet can save a business $280 a year on utility costs.
Fryers that have earned the Energy Star are up to 25 percent more energy efficient than standard models. These fryers must meet a minimum cooking efficiency of 50 percent (gas) and 80 percent (electric) while also meeting a maximum idle energy rate of 9,000 Btu/hr (gas) and 1,000 watts (electric). Energy-efficient fryers offer shorter cook times and higher production rates through advanced burner and heat exchanger designs. Pot insulation reduces standby losses resulting in a lower idle energy rate. Each Energy Star-rated gas fryer can save a business $185/year on utility bills. Each electric fryer can save $60 annually.
Commercial solid door refrigerators and freezers with the Energy Star label are more energy efficient because they are designed with components such as ECM evaporator and condenser fan motors, hot gas anti-sweat heaters, or high-efficiency compressors, which will significantly reduce energy consumption and utility bills. Refrigerators and freezers with the Energy Star label can result in energy savings of 45 percent with a 1.3-year payback. Purchasers can expect to save $140 annually per refrigerator and $100 per freezer. According to EPA, replacing all existing commercial solid door refrigerators and freezers in the United States with Energy Star-labeled models would result in savings of almost $250 million per year—the equivalent of eliminating the emissions from 475,000 cars.
Steam cookers, also known as compartment steamers, that have earned the Energy Star are up to 60 percent more energy efficient than standard models. Both electric and gas models have earned the Energy Star. Steam cookers that earn the Energy Star must meet a minimum cooking efficiency of 50 percent (electric) and 38 percent (gas) while also meeting maximum idle energy rates. Steam cookers with the Energy star offer shorter cook times, higher production rate and reduced heat loss due to better insulation and more efficient steam delivery. Each Energy Star-qualified electric steam cooker can save a business an average of $450 a year on utility bills. Gas steam cookers with the Energy Star can save an average of $820 a year.
In addition to saving energy, Energy Star-qualified steam cookers also save water—90 percent or more when compared with steam cooker models (on average 2 gallons of water per hour for Energy Star-qualified steam cookers versus 25 to 35 gallons of water per hour for standard models.)
To those hoteliers interested in knowing how much energy their kitchen appliances are consuming, Lewis says Energy Star will provide metering services or work to provide support to a utility company that can provide metering. Those interested in exploring utility rebate programs for commercial food service equipment should visit Energy Star’s online Equipment Rebate Finder. More than 15 utility companies around the United States participate and offer rebates up to $750 on some equipment.
Glenn Hasek can be reached at email@example.com.