Energy Efficiency Solutions for Your Restaurant

At Lime Energy, we help all types of small businesses become more energy efficient. We have completed over one hundred thousand small business projects, and we understand the unique needs of our small business customers. If you are in the restaurant business, then you already know that running a restaurant takes large quantities of energy – taking a bite out of your profits. This blog will give you the facts about energy usage in restaurants, as well as some solutions to make your restaurant more energy efficient.

Energy Usage for Restaurants

Restaurants tend to use 5-7 times more energy per square foot than other commercial businesses in the United States. Why is this the case? According to the National Restaurant Association, here are the categories that require energy usage in a restaurant:

  • Cooking 34%
  • Heating and Cooling 28%
  • Washing Dishes 18%
  • Lighting 13%
  • Refrigeration 6%

Low or No Cost Energy Efficiency Solutions for Restaurants

While other small buildings such as offices and retail establishments use the bulk of their energy on lighting, restaurants use over a third of their energy on food preparation. With this in mind, there are some measures that restaurants can take to become more energy efficient:

  • Implement a startup and shutdown schedule. The average deep fryer uses more than 18,000 kWh per year, which costs about $1800. To reduce the amount of idle time that cooking equipment is on but not in use, implement a schedule for broilers, fryers and ranges.
  • Schedule regular maintenance. Incorporating regular cleaning and maintenance for equipment will help prevent energy loss through leaks, improper seals, and dirty coils. Equipment that is well maintained will be more energy efficient.
  • Calibrate equipment properly. Check thermostats regularly to make sure that freezers, refrigerators, dishwashers and hot water heaters are operating at their optimal temperature for best energy efficiency.
  • Install variable speed controls on your exhaust hood. This will dramatically reduce the operating time for fans.

Restaurant Equipment Upgrades for Energy Efficiency

As it becomes time to replace older equipment, you can purchase new equipment that is Energy Star Certified. Fryers, steamers, convection ovens, griddles, broilers, combination ovens, ranges, refrigerators, freezers and ice machines are all available with Energy Star ratings. HVAC systems are also Energy Star rated. A new HVAC should include programmable thermostats so that you can control the temperature according to occupancy and seasonal changes.

When replacing lighting, consider replacing T12 lamps with T8 lamps for better energy efficiency. Other energy saving upgrades include replacing exit signs and other incandescent or neon signs with LED signage, as well as installing occupancy sensors in low traffic areas. Though an energy efficient upgrade will cost money now, you will see your energy bills decrease, which will allow you to recoup your expenses, and make a positive return on investment over time. In addition, there are often incentive programs and rebates for restaurants who choose more energy efficient equipment.

These energy saving solutions are common to all restaurants, but there are also solutions that will be unique to your restaurant based on building size and type, usage, region, and many other variable factors. To learn more about energy efficiency solutions specific to your restaurant, contact Lime Energy for an energy audit.

 

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