Home Energy Management How to Turn Your Restaurant into an Energy-Efficient Machine

How to Turn Your Restaurant into an Energy-Efficient Machine


NATIONAL REPORT—Hotel bars and restaurants operate, at least in terms of energy efficiency, much the same as free-standing commercial restaurant operations. Small energy inefficiencies add up in the same ways that they do in commercial operations. When you create any personal budget, the first thing that you do is look at how much you’re currently spending.  Saving energy in your commercial kitchen begins the same way: know what your energy expenditures are.

•    List everything that uses power.
•    Make notes about appliances that you use on a constant basis.
•    Watch the kitchen’s operation and take notes on the practices and procedures as they’re actually carried out, rather than what’s in the handbook.

Get Rid of the Dead Weight

Every restaurant that has been in operation for a while has dead weight equipment. We’re talking about the equipment which hasn’t been running since the Reagan administration, the two stoves that you might have, and other unnecessary pieces.

•    Used, dead equipment is sometimes stored around machines which need clearance to operate. This can create a safety hazard.
•    This spare equipment can be sold on the used equipment lists and get your business a little extra cash.

Do a Maintenance Run

Restaurant equipment runs a lot better when it’s been maintained, but restaurants never seem to have the time to clear the lines, empty the bins, and otherwise maintain the equipment.

•    Look at the doors to the walk-in fridge. If the seals are shot, it’s leaking precious energy out into the kitchen.
•    The same goes for other coolers, ovens, ice machine bins, and more. Go through those old manuals and look up the maintenance schedules. Have you been keeping track?

Start With the Little Stuff

It’s always easier to pick the lowest hanging fruit.  If you’re able to change your light bulbs over to energy efficient ones, you can save money. Taking any steps to make your kitchen more energy efficient will help you out in the long run.

•    Change out your light bulbs.
•    Lower the heat/raise the cold.
•    Reduce the dishwasher temperature.
•    Slightly reduce the hot water temperature.

Look to Your Existing Equipment

Assuming that you’re not really in the market for new equipment just yet, maximize the efficiency of the equipment that you already have on site.

•    Move all equipment that needs an exhaust hood under the exhaust hood, if you are able.
•    Are there any efficiency tips for your specific equipment in the owner’s manuals? (Yes, we’ve read equipment manuals. And yes, we understand they are boring.)
•    Check into the possibility of retrofitting some of the equipment for increased efficiency.

Invest in Energy Star Certified Equipment

Energy Star is a program that was developed by the EPA to encourage companies to produce more energy efficient equipment in food service, electronics, refrigeration, and a wide range of other applications.

•    Do your research on Energy Star equipment.
•    Purchase just a little more than what you need to account for growth in your restaurant’s usage. (More information about Energy Star for restaurants can be found here.)

Some Examples from the Guide

•    You can save $250 annually for a gas fryer by reducing four hours of idle time each day.
•    Buying an Energy Star rated fryer can save you $100 in electricity or $450 in gas.

Develop a Culture of Energy Savings

That culture of energy efficiency and savings looks different from hotel to hotel, but it starts with the little things. Teach your people to turn off lights, close doors, and take the little steps toward that energy efficiency.

•    Create an energy savings system.
•    Encourage procedures that save energy.
•    Give your employees a stake in the results.

Each step that you take toward energy efficiency, whether you’re doing an energy assessment, evaluating the equipment that you have on the floor, or switching out old equipment for new makes a difference to the energy costs of your hotel. Don’t waste money on energy bills! Lower costs means more profit and a happier bottom line.

Nick Jakubowski is with Ice Machines Plus, a company that carries many Energy Star compliant ice machines.