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Running a successful restaurant is no piece of cake. You need to keep your customers satisfied with delicious food, maintain impeccable service, and, of course, manage the finances efficiently. One major expense for restaurants that often goes overlooked is energy consumption. Commercial kitchens and climate-controlled dining rooms use up a lot of power on a daily basis, significantly increasing energy costs.

In this article, we’ll help you identify common energy guzzlers in your restaurant. We’ll explore appliances and habits that tend to cause excessive energy usage and explore strategies to combat energy wastage.

Understanding the Energy Guzzlers

Before we dive into solutions, let’s first identify the culprits. Energy guzzlers in a restaurant can come in various forms, and understanding them is the first step toward achieving energy efficiency.

Kitchen Appliances and Equipment

The heart of any restaurant is its kitchen. With high-powered ranges, dishwashers, and specialized equipment running at all times, it’s also incredibly energy-intensive – especially if the equipment is damaged or outdated. Here are some common kitchen culprits:

Commercial Ovens and Stoves

Commercial-grade ovens and stoves consume a significant amount of energy, especially if they are old or not properly maintained.

Refrigeration Units

Refrigerators and freezers are vital for storing food safely, but they run 24/7, consuming energy constantly. That makes it crucial to get the most efficient refrigerators available.

Dishwashers

Restaurants go through a high volume of dishes daily, and dishwashers are indispensable. However, the high-powered commercial dishwashers common in restaurants use a substantial amount of hot water and electricity.

Critical Systems

Critical systems like heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC), lighting, and wiring are energy hogs in any industry, but doubly so in restaurants. Here are some common problems with them that can result in wasted energy.

Inefficient Lighting

The flashy light fixtures common in restaurants are great for impressing clientele, but they’re rarely built for efficiency. Using outdated or inefficient lighting fixtures can significantly increase energy consumption. Switching to LED lights can help reduce this.

HVAC Oversizing

Restaurants are incredibly demanding for a building’s HVAC system. They need to keep guests comfortable at all times, even as outside air rushes in with every swing of the front door. The high ceilings of many restaurants mean there’s more air to heat and cool. Even worse, commercial kitchens generate so much heat that they can be unsafe to work in without proper ventilation.

Restaurant owners are very aware of these problems – so much that they tend to overcompensate by installing systems far more powerful than they actually need. An HVAC system that’s too large for your space will waste energy, so it’s important to get one that’s just right.

Outdated Wiring

Outdated or damaged wiring is inefficient, and can even pose safety hazards. This is especially true in restaurants because older electric systems might not be suited to the high power draw of commercial kitchen equipment. 

Employee Habits

Sometimes, the human factor plays a significant role in energy wastage. Here are a few common errors that can increase usage:

Leaving Equipment Running

Employees may forget to turn off equipment that they’re not using, leading to unnecessary energy consumption.

Leaving Doors Open

When the doors of a restaurant are open, outside air, hot or cold, will rush in. This forces the HVAC systems to work much harder to keep guests comfortable.

Opening Ovens Too Often

If kitchen staff open an oven when they don’t need to, it wastes energy. Every time an oven is opened, the temperature inside drops significantly. This forces the oven to use more energy to return to temperature, and can prevent dishes from cooking properly.

Strategies to Combat Energy Wastage

Now that we’ve identified the culprits, let’s discuss strategies to combat energy wastage in your restaurant.

Invest in Energy-Efficient Appliances

One of the most effective ways to reduce energy consumption is to invest in energy-efficient appliances. Look for appliances with the Energy Star label, which indicates they meet strict energy efficiency standards.

Regular Maintenance and Upgrades

Frequently maintaining your kitchen equipment and HVAC systems ensures they run at peak efficiency. Clean them regularly, and schedule routine inspections and repairs to fix any issues promptly. This also improves their performance, resulting in a more comfortable dining experience and a better cook on your dishes. Your guests will notice the difference.

When key appliances like boilers or furnaces expire, replace them with new, efficient models. For example, a heat pump can replace both your heating and cooling systems, and they’re more efficient than either.

Lighting Upgrades

Upgrade your inefficient incandescent lights to energy-efficient LED bulbs. They use up to 90% less energy and last many times longer, so you’ll save on replacement costs.

Smart Thermostats

Install smart thermostats for your HVAC system. They can automatically adjust the temperature based on occupancy, saving energy when the restaurant is less crowded.

Add a Vestibule

Every time a restaurant’s front door opens, outside air rushes in, straining the HVAC systems as they work to normalize the temperature. A vestibule – a small room just behind a restaurant’s front door – limits the airflow so your systems don’t have to work as hard.

Employee Training

Educate your staff about energy-saving practices. Encourage them to turn off equipment when not in use, close doors to prevent drafts, and report any energy-related issues or equipment malfunctions they notice.

Energy Audits

Get an energy audit to assess your restaurant’s energy usage. They can identify specific areas where improvements can be made.

Save Energy and Impress your Customers

In conclusion, identifying and addressing energy guzzlers in your restaurant is essential for both environmental sustainability and cost savings. By taking a proactive approach to energy management, investing in energy-efficient appliances, and educating your staff, you can significantly reduce energy wastage and improve your restaurant’s overall efficiency. 

Remember, every dollar saved on energy is a dollar that can be reinvested in providing an exceptional dining experience for your customers. It’s time to start uncovering those hidden culprits and make your restaurant more energy-efficient!

If you need help getting started, Integrity Energy’s expert energy brokers can guide you. They’ll connect you with trustworthy energy auditors and help you find the best energy price available. Contact us today and start saving on your energy bill!