It’s time to start preparing for those upcoming holiday feasts and the first step is making your commercial kitchen more energy efficient. Kitchens—such as those found in full-service and quick-service restaurants, hotels, and hospitals—consume as much as three times more energy per square foot than most other types of commercial buildings.
The most important thing to do is to make sure your appliances are energy efficient, which can increase your bottom line while also providing a number of significant non-energy benefits, including improved operating performance and increased kitchen staff comfort.
Then look at how your kitchen is operated. We have several simple operational changes that can reduce energy use by as much as 10 to 30 percent while also improving operating performance and staff comfort.
- Make sure that equipment is in good working condition.Kitchen equipment such as ovens, fryers, broilers, and burners all require energy to function can waste large amounts of energy if left on when they aren’t being used.
- Turn off unused equipment. Running equipment that’s not in use wastes a significant amount of energy in commercial kitchens every year.
- Check oven and steamer seals.To keep heat from escaping, it’s important to make sure the seals around oven and steamer doors are in good shape and create a proper seal.
- Keep equipment clean. Cleaning equipment can help it operate more efficiently and extend its life. For example, sediment in the bottom of a fryer can reduce its efficiency, and debris at the bottom of an oven can prevent the door from sealing well.
- Inspect refrigerator and freezer doors. To prevent leakage of cool air, replace worn gaskets and make sure doors are aligned properly. Also, check that automatic door closers are functioning and strip curtains are not damaged.
- Clean refrigerator coils regularly. Cleaning dirty air-conditioning and refrigeration (evaporator and condenser) coils can improve efficiency and help prevent early compressor failure.
- Use proper water heating settings and ensure that the distribution system is leak-free. Set the water heater temperature to 140° Fahrenheit (F) (60° Celsius [C]), insulate hot water lines, regularly ensure that the water heater temperature/pressure-relief valve is operational, and fix any leaks.
- Use proper dishwasher set points and operation mode. Set rinse pressure to 15 to 25 pounds per square inch (100 to 172 kilopascals) to avoid excess water use, set the wash-tank temperature to 160°F (71°C—high enough to sterilize), and set the booster heater set point to 180°F (83°C). Check that wash curtains for conveyor washers are not missing or too short to prevent heat from escaping. Also, run the dishwasher only when full, don’t run it in manual mode—the machine will likely run too long without automatic shutoffs—and turn off high-temperature dishwashers at night so that their heating elements will not consume energy.
- Investigate your sprayers. Although a national standard mandates that all pre-rinse sprayers manufactured after 2006 be limited to a flow rate of 1.6 gallons per minute (gpm), many currently installed sprayers use up to 5.0 gpm, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. In areas where these inefficient sprayers are used, upgrading to low-flow sprayers can conserve water while also reducing the energy needed to maintain the supply of hot water. An easy way to tell whether you should replace your sprayer is to use it to fill up a 1-gallon water pail—if it takes less than about 30 seconds, it’s a good idea to replace it.
For more energy efficiency ideas to keep your business cooking visit our energy tips for restaurants page.