Cut Down Your Appliance Idle Time
So much of the energy used in kitchens comes specifically from your appliances just being left on. You’ll probably need most of your equipment on throughout service hours, but chances are, you don’t need all of your appliances turned on for all hours of your shift — particularly during kitchen prep work and end of shift clean-up. By assembling a plan for startup/shutdown of all equipment (excluding refrigeration, of course), you can ensure your equipment is only on standby for a short amount of time, saving energy and money.
This plan should be customized for your particular restaurant’s needs and schedule, so it’s important to discuss any changes with both managers and chefs alike to coordinate the best times to turn equipment on and off for the day.
Additionally, your entire kitchen staff should be trained to follow the plan. Don’t assume it will just happen with a memo or one-time mention. If you really want to consistently reduce your energy use, stress the importance of conserving energy to your staff by integrating it fully into your training plan.
Keep Up Maintenance on Current Equipment
You want to make sure all of your equipment is running at its most efficient. Consistent, planned maintenance can help prevent a variety of problems, including wasted energy issues. For instance, an ill-maintained fryer won’t cook food properly while still using up more electricity, which means lower food quality, slower cook times, and higher energy bills.
If you can’t upgrade your air conditioning system and hoods, it’s still important to keep that maintenance up. Clogged up filters restrict air flow, making your system work that much harder and use that much more energy. Generally, you should change your air filters at least four times a year, but checking it every month will help ensure you’re not dealing with dirty filters.
It’s also important to take care of repairs as soon as possible. While it might be tempting to ignore faulty and broken equipment or leaky pipes whose repairs don’t seem necessary to handle right away, even a brief delay can lead to more damage and much larger utility costs that ultimately outweigh the cost of repairing the damage immediately.
Retrofit Your Old Equipment
If you’re hesitant about changing out your older, but still well maintained, equipment models for brand new ones, there are still ways for you to upgrade parts of them to be more energy efficient. These kitchen retrofitting can be lighter on your budget, and can also make a difference on your bills.
Adding hood fans with variable-speeds, efficient evaporative fan motors, strip curtains for your walk-in coolers, or duct seals can reduce your energy costs. Even just replacing your back of the house lighting with more efficient bulbs or LEDs helps.
Invest in Energy-Efficient Equipment
While retrofitting can work for some situations, sometimes an older piece of equipment is so old — or just sucking up so much energy — that it just simply needs to be replaced. Ultimately, the most substantial way to reduce a commercial kitchen’s energy costs, in the long run, is to upgrade to energy-efficient equipment.
It’s an investment that will pay off — saving you 10-70% by replacing outdated ovens and equipment with energy-efficient equipment. But it’s not just ovens, fryers, and other cooking equipment that you should evaluate for energy-efficient replacement. Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems make up nearly a third of the energy bills for an average restaurant. Modern manufacturers have developed energy-efficient exhaust hood and HVAC options specifically for the restaurant industry. Investing in these innovations and replacing your old units can mean major savings down the road.
If you need expert advice on how best to ensure your kitchen is running as efficiently as possible, come and talk to one of our team today or call us on 1300 000 DCE