Opening a restaurant: how to keep it energy efficient

According to EnergyStar, restaurants use about 2.5 times more energy (per square foot) than other commercial buildings. In a world where we are all trying to be more energy efficient and the public are becoming more aware of what businesses are doing to play their part in the battle against climate change, doing your best to have a positive effect on the environment is essential.

Thankfully, there are things that new restaurant openers can do to help to keep it as energy efficient as possible.

  • Know where you’re starting from

When you rent or buy a commercial building, you should be provided with an EPC (Energy Performance Certificate). This is a document that shows how energy efficient your building is, meaning that you can then go on to start to improve it. The EPC will be able to give you recommendations as to what is possible to do to improve the building’s energy performance.

  • Get the most energy efficient equipment

If you are going to buy new kitchen equipment, make sure that you get the most energy efficient equipment. You can find energy efficient ovens, fryers, fridges and freezers, but also heating, air-conditioning and energy efficient ventilation systems. These are all worth investing in if you are buying for a new restaurant or replacing old and inefficient goods.

AA+++ fridges are the most energy efficient and can make a considerable difference to the amount of energy that you are using. By getting a fridge of AA++ or more, you will both help to save the world, but also keep your energy bills down.

  • Clean and keep up maintenance

It is important to keep your kitchen equipment clean and well-maintained. Not only will they be more efficient for you in your work and reduce the risk of damages, they will also stop issues with wasted energy. For example, a clogged air conditioning unit will need more energy than a clean one to work properly, so by keeping the filters clean, you can help to reduce the energy that is used keeping you cool.

  • Retrofit older equipment

If you have old or second equipment to fit into your new kitchen, which is well-maintained and working efficiently, you can upgrade parts of it to make it more energy efficient. You can add new seals on your fridge or freezer, add variable speed fans or more efficient motors. These simple upgrades will help to reduce the energy that your equipment uses, are cheaper to carry out than buying new ones, and can be just as effective.

  • Use the appropriate size equipment

Although you will usually need larger fridges, freezers, ovens and other equipment than in a domestic environment, try to get and use the most appropriate size for your needs. Heating, chilling or powering a larger space than you need will consume considerably more energy than you need to, being both inefficient and more costly than necessary.

  • Lighting

Whilst it is important that you and your customers can see properly, you can invest in energy saving lightbulbs in the kitchen, toilets and in the front of house. CFL, LED and halogen incandescent bulbs are all good options for low energy lighting. If you have an outside area, it is worth considering using solar powered lighting.

  • Lower water temperatures

With lower water temperatures you can reduce the amount of energy that it used heating the water up. Check what the best (and lowest) temperature is for washing dishes and try to reduce drying as much as possible to keep energy use to a minimum.

  • Turn off idle equipment

Try to avoid having equipment which is not being used, switched on. Turn appliances off at the switch on the wall if you are not using them, or at least during down time or less busy periods. This is not only safer (reducing the possibility of causing fires or electric shocks) but can also minimise the amount of energy that is being used unnecessarily.

  • Good working practices

Try to instil good working practice among all of the staff. This includes turning off light switches when the last person leaves the room, not leaving fridge and freezer doors open for too long, allowing food to cool before it is put in the fridge or freezer and ensuring that appliances are properly ventilated. By giving the whole team the responsibility for energy efficiency you are more likely to be successful.

Energy efficiency is important when you are planning a new restaurant – both in terms of the environment and also for your own bills. By considering some of these points, you can ensure that you spend money on what is important and not waste the earth’s precious resources.

By Ella Hendrix

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