According to the U.S. Department of Energy, Energy Information Agency, restaurants are the most energy intensive businesses, using 2.5 to 3 x the energy per square foot of a typical commercial facility. Energy is also generally the 3rd or 4th largest expense for a restaurant. And, yet, most restaurants treat energy as a non-controllable expense and do little if anything to try to reduce energy usage.
In fact, there are inexpensive things a restaurant can do to lower energy usage, and those things can add up and have a huge effect. For example, for a restaurant with a 10% profit margin for which energy is 5% of total costs (not unusual), a 20% reduction in energy usage would increase profit by 10%.
I am going to discuss some of the kinds of steps restaurants can take to lower energy costs in a series of posts, starting with this one.
Tip 1: Turn it Off!
Turning things off when not in use sounds like a no brainer, but in fact this turns out to be a major cost issue and opportunity for most restaurants. Saving 10% of energy costs from this alone is quite feasible in many facilities.
Lighting, of course, is a major culprit, but savings are also possible with HVAC systems, exhaust fans, office equipment, and other equipment that gets left on when the business is closed.
The problem is not restricted to things left on when the facility is closed. For example, fryers are a huge energy user; yet fryers, including back-up units, are often left on all the time during meals in anticipation of usage. Monitoring their usage and turning units off when they are not absolutely needed is another way to save. Similarly, if you have outdoor seating with patio heaters; these heaters are very energy intensive, so make sure to turn them off in any vacant seating area.
Short of installing automated controls, the simplest thing to do is set up a clear set of processes and responsibilities and make sure they are enforced.
This is a zero cost approach that can return large benefits.