As a restaurant owner, finding ways to save energy can help you protect your budget and the environment. There are many steps you can take to reduce your energy consumption. In this article, we’ll explore some practical energy-saving tips for restaurants to help you save money and reduce your carbon footprint.
Pinpointing the energy thieves in your restaurant is the first step towards saving energy. Naturally, not all restaurants are the same. Nevertheless, the chart below will give you a good idea about how the energy consumption in your restaurant kitchen is distributed.
For most restaurants, the energy consumption in the kitchen equals around 70% of the total energy consumption.
As the chart above shows, fridges, freezers, ovens, stoves, fryers and dishwashers eat a lot of your restaurant kitchen’s energy. For this reason, keeping an extra eye on these and making small adjustments can help lower your energy bill. Below you’ll find energy-saving tips for each of these kitchen equipment groups.
Make sure that the temperatures in your restaurant kitchen’s fridges and freezers are just right. The temperature in the fridge should be 5 ºC. In the freezer, the optimal temperature is -18 ºC. Even if the displays on your fridge or freezer show the correct temperature, it’s always a good idea to confirm with a thermometer.
Clean the condensers in your cold room and freezer room at least twice a year. Or whenever they start to look dusty.
If you have several fridges, you might consider using one of them just for vegetables. Most vegetables will stay fresh at 10 ºC. That means you can save energy by not using a lot of cooling power for ingredients that don’t need it. You can also consider turning off fridges with soft drinks during the night.
Need to thaw something? Do it in the fridge in a bowl or tray. That way you can take advantage of the cold temperatures and your fridge won’t have to use as much energy.
When your fresh ingredients arrive from your suppliers it can take a while to sort them all and place them in the fridge, freezers and cold rooms. In order to save energy, it’s best to avoid opening fridges and freezers again and again. Instead, gather all the products in front of the fridge- and freezer doors while unpacking. When you’re ready, place everything inside at the same time.
Don’t forget to check the cooling requirements for the individual products!
Mastering the heat, the flames and the boiling pots is the cornerstone of good cooking. Guests expect meat, vegetables and fish that are cooked to perfection. Giving them that requires ovens, stoves and fryers. These swallow about 25% of the energy in your kitchen. Paying attention to routines can help reduce their total energy consumption.
Kitchen ventilation isn’t the hungriest of your restaurant’s energy thieves. Nevertheless, there’s still energy to save by using your ventilation equipment in the most efficient way.
It’s not the most wanted of kitchen tasks, but the filter in the restaurant kitchen’s exhaust hood needs cleaning once a week. When the filter is full of grease the cooker hood can’t pull the air through as efficiently. This can result in higher energy use.
Avoid setting the exhaust hood on the highest setting if it’s not necessary. An exhaust hood uses approximately 1.5 times more energy when operating at full speed.
If there’s light in your exhaust hood, use LED light bulbs to save energy.
While rinsing your pots, pans and gastro trays your restaurant’s dishwasher gulps down about 20% of the total kitchen energy. You can’t live without its daily miracles or the staff that’s systematically feeding it, but you can reduce its use of energy.
Make sure that the dishwasher is full before starting it. Whenever possible, gather everything that needs washing and try to limit the use of the dishwasher to a shorter time period.
Are you using a freshwater dishwasher? Then there’s no need to rinse off the dirty dishes with water. Simply scrape off the food.
Is your restaurant kitchen equipped with a tank dishwasher? Then you can save energy by using cold water to pre-rinse the items.
You can safely turn off the ventilation when nobody is working in the dishwashing area to save energy.
Investing in new equipment for the kitchen can be a costly affair. Nevertheless, sometimes even small investments can have a good impact when it comes to saving energy.
Do your oven containers fit neatly into your fridge, freezer and cold room? If not, investing in containers that are easier to store can help you save energy because it lets you keep more food containers in less space.
Does it sense for you to invest in larger equipment such as fridges and ovens? Keep the EU energy labels in mind when making the purchase. You can read more about them here.
Other recommendations for your equipment purchases:
Sources: ens.dk and commission.europa.eu
Saving energy in any workplace or household is very much about paying attention to routines and workflows. Some things that seem obvious are easy to forget. That’s why it’s important that we remind each other and ourselves again and again. One way to remember is to put up posters, such as this one from the Danish Energy Agency and Horesta, on the kitchen walls. Or you can make your own to match the work areas in your restaurant kitchen.
The benefits of saving energy are many, even when European energy prices become lower and more stable. Saving energy also means saving money and taking care of the environment, and often results in more efficient workflows!
Read more sustainability tips for restaurants here!