Energy use in commercial kitchens frequently makes up a significant portion of total operating costs. Besides the fact that environmentally-friendly - or ‘green’ - kitchen policies can be helpful in marketing your restaurant to socially conscious clientele, many energy-saving strategies have the added benefit of saving you money, increasing the life of your kitchen appliances, and improving kitchen safety.
Consider instituting the following strategies for saving energy:
Implement Energy-Mindful Employee Training
Employees should not be expected to be especially mindful of your kitchen’s energy use - they must be trained to do so. Small behavioral changes, including but not limited to the use of lower temperature water (for example, lowering your water heater to a temperature that still meets requirements for dishwashing), keeping refrigerator and freezer doors closed when not in use, and turning off cooking and heating equipment when not in use (and maintaining a schedule for equipment so as to minimize idling time), can save you thousands of dollars per year in potential costs. You may also find that employees trained to be mindful of energy use are also more responsible when it comes to adhering to kitchen safety and health policies.
Assess Appliance Locations
One common mistake made in commercial kitchens is the arrangement of kitchen equipment. For example, energy use may increase if an oven or open burners are placed adjacent or near a refrigerator or freezer. To improve energy efficiency, group hot appliances with other hot appliances (and better yet, use the same vent) and cold appliances with other cold appliances.
Revisit Older Equipment for Improvements
Many of your older commercial kitchen appliances can be improved with certain modular replacements that save energy. If you’re interested in retrofitting older equipment to be energy-efficient rather than purchasing new energy-efficient equipment, speak with one of the suppliers on Kinnek to see if they have the parts - and the expertise - you’re looking for.
Assess Your Ventilation and Air Condition Expenses
A large percentage of energy costs in a restaurant can be attributed to heating, air condition, and ventilation - to save, look for ventilation hoods and AC units that are designated as “energy saving” or “energy efficient”. There are also programmable thermostats available that will allow you to minimize any excessive heating in idle periods.
Replace Your Lightbulbs
If you haven’t replaced your lightbulbs already, energy efficient lightbulbs are available at relatively low initial cost, have lower maintenance costs than equivalent standard bulbs, and frequently last longer than equivalent standard bulbs.
Ensure That All Kitchen Equipment is Properly Cleaned
Collected dirt, gunk, and particulate matter can limit the efficiency of your kitchen appliances, from both an energy-saving and production-efficiency perspective. Ensuring that equipment is consistently cleaned (for example, regularly cleaning the sediment zone of a fryer) will help maximize energy efficiency.
Install Low-Flow Pre-Rinse Spray Valves
Installing a low-flow pre-rinse spray valve for pre-washing soiled dishes before placing them in the dishwasher can save hundreds of dollars per month compared to a high-flow pre-rinse spray valve unit.