Using Energy Wisely
Restaurants can be energy hogs. Energy-intensive
equipment, like large refrigeration units, deep-fat
fryers, stoves, and steamers cause restaurants to use
roughly 5-7 times more energy per square foot than
other businesses. This translates into energy costs
taking up a large portion of a restaurant’s overhead.
U.S. restaurants spend 3-5% of their total operating
budget on energy, so taking advantage of energy-
saving opportunities can quickly show up in higher
profits. For example, if a restaurant has a profit
margin of 4-7%, just a 20% reduction in energy costs can
result in a profit increase of 10% or more!
Tips to Conserve Energy
- Buy appliances and electronics that carry the ENERGY STAR® label.
- Take advantage of an energy audit if offered by the utility company
- Turn off lights when not in use; consider setting timers on
lights or installing motion detectors in storage areas,
- Use CFL or LED lighting instead of incandescent. Replace old
exit signs with LED versions.
- Shut off small appliances, POS systems, etc. when not in use.
- Clean and maintain equipment to ensure it runs as efficiently
- Separate cooling equipment from heating equipment in
kitchen layout so equipment does not have to work as hard
to reach/maintain temperature.
- Clean refrigeration coils at least once per quarter.
- Avoid overfilling refrigerators and freezers so efficient
cooling can occur.
- Limit access to and/or put lockable covers on thermostats.
- Monitor windows and doors to keep heating or air conditioning
- When remodeling, research energy-efficient options and evaluate payback.
- Repair all water leaks to save on water heating cost, in addition to water and sewer savings.
- Ensure water heater is set at a minimum temperature for sanitizing purposes.
- Train staff on procedures to save energy and the importance of energy conservation.
Natural Gas vs. Electric
Gas and electric are the two primary cooking options in the foodservice world. There are pros and cons with each type of power source.
Electric Rates vs. Natural Gas Prices
In general, natural gas is much cheaper than electricity for a given amount of heat energy (BTU*). Assuming a typical natural gas cost of $10.50 per thousand cubic feet (Ccf) and electric cost of $0.10 per kWh, the cost per BTU for natural gas is roughly one-third that of electricity. Your operating cost will also be affected by the energy efficiency of your equipment.
For more information, visit the US Energy Information Administration at: http://www.eia.gov/tools/faqs/faq.cfm?id=45&t=8
*A BTU is a British thermal unit – equal to the amount of energy needed to raise the temperature of a pound of water 1°F.
Price is not the only consideration when deciding which type of equipment to use. Here are some other considerations:
Benefits of Electric Commercial Cooking Equipment
- Equipment is generally less expensive and easier to install
- Ovens tend to cook more evenly
- Usually more efficient heat transfer on stovetop than gas
- No danger of gas leak
Benefits of Gas-Fired Commercial Cooking Equipment
- Rapid control and adjustment of heating intensity
- Immediate start-up – no waiting for elements to get to set temperature
- Typically not affected by power outages
- Stovetop cools more quickly than electric models, which means less unneeded heat when turned off
National Restaurant Association: www.restaurant.org
Food Service Technology Center: www.fishnick.com
US EPA: www.epa.gov
ENERGY STAR®: www.energystar.gov/cfs
US Energy Information Administration: www.eia.gov