13 ways to painlessly improve profitability: Electricity benchmarking

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This is a portion of a post on MultiBriefs Exclusive.

restaurant electricity costsIt’s said that every journey begins with one step, but that’s not actually true because it assumes you know where you are when you begin. This article will help you figure out where the starting line is so you can measure your energy-saving progress. Whether you have one restaurant or hundreds, the method is essentially the same, although multi-unit operators can take the process one step further by comparing similar units to each other.

Begin by gathering your electricity bills for the last year so you’ll have a benchmark for every month of the year. Like year-over-year revenue, this will allow you to compare like months, adjusting for normal seasonality and other factors. It tells you how much you spend on energy each month, but so much more. It also tells you when and how you spend those energy dollars.

Before you begin your analysis, it is important to understand the difference between energy (kWh) and power (kW). Energy is equal to the amount of power a device uses over a given period of time. For example, a 100-watt (W) light bulb — remember those? — burning for 1 hour uses 100W x 1hr, or 100 watt-hours (Wh). 1,000Wh equals 1 kilowatt-hour (kWh). A kWh is a basic unit of measurement for how much electricity you use. The light bulb’s power rating (100W) describes how much power it consumes when running; it is a measurement of the rate at which energy is being used.

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