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High-angle view of various fresh ingredients on the stove and the counter of a commercial kitchen in a trendy restaurant with fish specialties.

Behind every bustling restaurant lies the energy-intensive beast of a commercial kitchen. From sizzling grills and roaring ovens to bubbling deep fryers and crisp walk-in coolers, the demands of the dinner rush are met with a voracious appetite for power. Yet, amid the culinary chaos, lies an opportunity for transformation. 

With notoriously low margins, any efforts to reduce costs are crucial for a restaurant’s longevity. Energy constitutes a significant overhead expense. The U.S. restaurant industry consumes a staggering 206 billion kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity each year, equivalent to powering 15 million homes and costing more than $20 billion annually. 

By prioritizing energy efficiency, restaurants not only slash utility expenses but demonstrate a commitment to sustainability and innovation. Our comprehensive guide delves into the most energy-intensive kitchen appliances, providing energy-saving tips and potential cost-savings that will revolutionize the way you cook, one watt at a time.

Energy-Efficient Appliances and Cookware

It’s no surprise that refrigeration and food preparation account for roughly 41% of the average full-service restaurant’s energy consumption. Energy Star certified products, meeting the EPA’s stringent efficiency and performance guidelines, offer a clear path to substantial savings. The Energy Star seal serves as a government-backed symbol for efficiency and cost savings, guiding restaurant owners towards smart investment choices. By upgrading outdated appliances to energy-efficient models, commercial kitchens can save nearly $5,300 each year in energy costs. 

As we explore the specifics of common commercial kitchen appliances, discover their energy-saving best practices and the potential cost savings by upgrading to efficient models. From refrigerators to fryers, our comprehensive breakdown empowers restaurant owners to create a more efficient and sustainable commercial kitchen.

Commercial Refrigerators

Average lifespan: 10-15 years

Energy-saving best practices

For optimum performance, ensure that your refrigerator door is closed when it’s not actively in use. Furthermore, test the door seals and replace them if you notice any gaps, cracks, or leaks. Refrigerators rely on airflow for optimal performance. Ensure that the interior and exterior are regularly cleaned, there’s ample space around the appliance for proper ventilation, and avoid overfilling. For additional energy-saving measures, upgrade the interior lighting to an LED bulb and turn off the anti-sweat heaters on glass doors when feasible.

Potential cost savings

Energy-efficient commercial refrigerators are 20% more efficient than standard models. Upgrading to an Energy Star certified refrigerator could save you anywhere from $30-100 each year in energy costs.

Commercial Griddles

Average lifespan: 10 years

Energy-saving best practices

Idle time is the biggest energy waste when it comes to griddles, accounting for 40% of the appliance’s energy use. Consider turning the heat down or turning the griddle off during times of low production, such as between lunch and dinner rushes, to save up to $250 each year in energy expenses. To take energy conservation even further, consider opting for a chrome griddle, which radiates 50% less atmospheric heat. Chrome griddles create a more comfortable cooking environment and take additional strain off your HVAC system.

Potential cost savings

Energy-efficient commercial griddles can save you between $100-135 each year depending on your preference between gas and electric. Energy Star certified gas griddles are 10% more efficient than standard models whereas efficient electric griddles are 11% more efficient than their standard counterparts.

Commercial Ovens

Average lifespan: 7-10 years

Energy-saving best practices

One of the most vital energy-saving tips for commercial ovens is to leave the doors closed. Oven temperatures can drop as much as 150 ℉ if left open for a mere 30 seconds. It can take several minutes for it to return back to temperature, causing excess energy consumption. Reducing a commercial oven’s idle time by 1 hour daily can save up to $400 annually, so consider giving this appliance a break in-between lunch and dinner rush. Additional conservation measures include checking the door seals and conducting regular cleaning and maintenance to keep it at optimal performance.

Potential Cost Savings

Upgrading to an Energy Star certified commercial oven can save you up to $210 each year in energy costs. Commercial ovens bearing the Energy Star seal are typically 20% more efficient than standard models, regardless of your preference between gas and electric.

Commercial Fryers

Average lifespan: 10-15 years

Energy-saving best practices

Similar to griddles, commercial fryers are prone to excess energy consumption during idle periods. Restaurants that eliminate four hours of idle time per day can save up to $260 annually in energy costs. Take energy efficiency further by filtering your oil twice per day and maintaining a temperature no higher than 350℉ to maintain oil quality while reducing energy waste. 

Potential cost savings

The potential cost savings of upgrading to an Energy Star certified commercial fryer varies depending on energy source. Efficient electric fryers use 14% less energy than standard models, saving up to $260 each year. On the other hand, efficient gas fryers are 30% more efficient than standard models, saving up to $400 each year. 

Commercial Dishwashers

Average lifespan: 10-15 years

Energy-saving best practices

Maintenance and mindful use are the two common elements in creating more efficient dishwasher practices. Keep the water temperature no higher than 140℉. This temperature effectively sanitizes plates without using excess energy. Furthermore, regularly clean the machine of food debris, deep clean monthly, and strategically pre-rinse dishes for an energy-efficient, sparkling finish.

Potential cost savings

Upgrading to an Energy Star certified commercial dishwasher can save you up to $360 each year in energy and water expenses. Efficient commercial dishwashers are 12% more energy efficient and up to 50% more water efficient than standard models. 

Lighting Systems

LED lifespan: 25 times longer than incandescent lighting

Energy-saving best practices

Upgrading to LED lighting is a simple but highly effective way to make a difference in utility bills. LED lighting is 75% more efficient than traditional incandescent bulbs while providing a better quality of illumination. Take the energy savings even further by installing occupancy sensors in the back of house and lighting control options for the front of house.

Potential cost savings

Switching to energy-efficient LED lighting can reduce energy consumption and expenses considerably. Replacing 10 incandescent light bulbs with LEDs can save up to $300 each year

Five chefs wearing uniforms overlooking the griddle and ovens in a commercial kitchen.

Energy-Saving Cooking Techniques & Employee Engagement

By streamlining cooking methodologies, such as daily prepping routines and embracing batch cooking, kitchens can minimize energy waste during peak business hours. Simple adjustments can further reduce energy waste, such as using pot lids or reducing the amount of water to boil ingredients. Creating a routine cleaning and maintenance schedule keeps appliances at peak performance while encouraging employee participation. These energy-saving techniques decrease operational costs while fostering staff participation, encouraging a collaborative effort towards sustainability.

Cultivating an energy-conscious kitchen culture relies on extensive staff training and engagement. Creating an energy efficiency training program and incorporating interactive activities, such as Energy Star’s “Energy Treasure Hunt,” empower employees to identify and implement energy-saving opportunities. Establish energy-saving routines such as power-up and power-down procedures, fostering energy conservation habits among staff. Consider recognizing and rewarding outstanding efficiency practices to further reinforce and celebrate sustainability efforts. By involving employees in energy-saving initiatives, restaurants create a more sustainable workplace while also achieving tangible reductions in energy expenses.

Smart Technologies for Kitchen Energy Management

Commercial kitchens are energy-intensive spaces, consuming 5-7 times more energy than other commercial buildings. Integrating smart technology automates energy-saving initiatives, providing restaurateurs more time to focus on restaurant operations. Consider adopting an energy management system (EMS), which offers real-time energy reporting, data analysis, and user-friendly controls in a singular interface. 

EMS solutions are scalable, from singular restaurants to chains, streamlining the monitoring and progress tracking process. This automation enables scheduling features for lighting, HVAC, and appliances to minimize afterhours energy waste. HVAC zoning features ensure both diner and chef comfort, while real-time reporting identifies issues and additional conservation opportunities. EMS solutions empower efficient energy management while improving sustainability and reducing operational costs. 

Shari’s Creates a Sustainable Restaurant Experience

Shari’s Cafe & Pies is a full-service family restaurant with 95 locations throughout the Pacific Northwest. In 2008, the restaurant chain embarked on a journey to become more sustainable and reduce energy consumption. Their first initiative was the creation of Shari’s Water Energy Efficiency Program (SWEEP) with the overarching goal of prioritizing efficiency in all aspects of business planning, operations, and vendor partnerships. Their initiatives continued by upgrading to Energy Star appliances as well as implementing annual energy audits, mandatory staff training, and dedicating March as Energy Awareness Month. 

Since 2010, Shari’s received more than $300,000 in Energy Star rebates and tax incentives while curtailing their waste by 340,200 lbs. The chain has lowered their electricity usage by 6%, gas usage has reduced 11%, and water usage reduced by 18%, saving the company more than $650,000 in utility expenses. By embracing energy conservation, Shari’s Cafes & Pies has significantly diminished their carbon footprint while improving operations.

Red Robin Reduces their Carbon Footprint through Retrofitting 

Red Robin Gourmet Burgers is passionate about creating an environmentally-conscious dining experience. In 2009, Red Robin bolstered their energy efficiency efforts. Their first initiatives included creating transparency in the planning, construction, and operations of their chain. The second phase included retrofitting older restaurants with LED lighting, LED TVs, and overhauling HVAC systems. Their final energy conservation measure was implementing comprehensive energy management systems (EMS) to monitor progress toward their goals. 

Red Robin’s lighting retrofits alone have saved more than 5.5 million kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity annually. Due to the success of these initiatives, Red Robin has begun testing solar panels on three of their Colorado locations, demonstrating a true dedication towards sustainability in the restaurant industry.

Energy Efficiency Creates Cost-Effective and Sustainable Restaurants

Embracing conservation practices benefits the environment and your bottom line by streamlining operations, cutting overhead costs, and enhancing the dining experience. From efficient appliances to staff training, opportunities abound to save money and reduce your carbon footprint. As restaurant owners, it’s essential to recognize the significant impact that energy conservation can have on your business’s success.  

Consider partnering with Integrity Energy, your trusted resource for energy-saving advice and cost-effective solutions. With our expertise and personalized approach, we’re dedicated to providing the most competitive energy plans on the market. Take the first step towards a cost-effective and sustainable commercial kitchen by requesting a free quote from Integrity Energy today.