Tip 4: Focus on Food Prep
Food preparation has a huge direct impact on energy use in a restaurant – as well as a huge indirect impact in the form of ventilation requirements.
Broilers can be the most energy intensive food appliance, so assuming you are not prepared to simply replace broiling with frying – which uses about 1/6 as much energy – minimize broiler energy use by cutting pre-heat time, turning off unneeded sections of the broiler, minimizing idle time, and replacing missing knobs that are a source of energy leaks.
When looking to replace equipment, there is now a wide range of Energy Star certified kitchen equipment, including Fryers, Steamers, Convection Ovens, Holding Cabinets and more, that can reduce energy use. Please see the later section on Energy Star.
In terms of ventilation, one cost-effective alternative is an intelligent, variable speed hood controller, which determines when and how much ventilation is needed and activates the exhaust fan accordingly. For a low to no cost approach to reducing ventilation costs, install side panels on your hoods to reduce spillage, and push each cooking appliance as far back as possible to maximize hood overhang and minimize air gaps between the appliance and the walls.
Makeup air systems are by far the largest contributors to ventilation costs. An EPA-sponsored design guide – Improving Commercial Kitchen Ventilation System Performance: Optimizing Makeup Air – provides a comprehensive set of strategies for minimizing the impact of makeup air on hood performance and energy use, while improving safety and comfort.