When kitchen equipment runs at less than optimum efficiency, you can end up paying big. One of the biggest expenses restaurateurs and commercial kitchen managers face is the energy bill, which includes food prep, refrigeration and cooking costs. Inefficient energy usage not only drains expenses, but it also is harmful to the environment.
With this in mind, we’ve put together a some pointers to help you optimize your kitchen for greater efficiency. These commercial kitchen energy efficiency tips can be implemented on your own, regardless of your level of technical expertise.
Keep a Regular Maintenance Schedule
When your equipment is dirty or not running up to speed, it can increase energy usage. All the commercial appliances covered under warranty should be maintained at least a couple of times throughout the year. Whether it’s outside warranty or between visits from a service technician, you also should conduct different weekly and daily kitchen equipment maintenance. For instance, your ovens, fryers and other cooking units should be cleaned thoroughly every day.
Check Seals and Gaskets
Small slits on your commercial refrigerator or oven gaskets can leave the door cracked open. This causes air to escape the interior, making your unit use more energy to balance itself out. Check the seals and gaskets on your equipment frequently. You should replace them every three to five years to ensure they don’t wear out. Whenever you see splits and cracks, replace them immediately.
If you have a walk-in cooler or fridge, think about using cooler curtains. These help reduce airflow in and out of your unit, allowing it to retain its temperature.
Clean the Condenser Coils on Your Refrigeration Units
A refrigeration unit can hog up all the power it uses when the condenser coils are dirty. This increased the cabinet temperature and potentially cause other parts to break down due to overuse. Thoroughly clean the condenser coils at least every three months. Use stiff bristle brush to scrub out dirt and grime, and remove the remaining remnants with an air compressor or vacuum cleaner.
Go with “Green” Lighting
No, we’re not suggesting that you use a green color light. We’re talking about using energy efficient lighting throughout your commercial kitchen. According to ENERGY STAR, CFL or LED light bulbs use between 70-90 percent less energy than standard incandescent bulbs. They also are designed to last longer than incandescent bulbs, meaning you won’t have to frequently replace the lighting in your space.
Don’t Waste Water
Keep the water pressure on your sinks and dishwashers at a reasonable level to avoid waste. For instance, a commercial faucet or sprayer should have a flow rate between 1 to 1.6 gallons per minute. Try using low flow sprayers and aerators on your faucet to help reduce water usage while maintaining a strong flow of water. Also, inform your kitchen staff to limit the amount of time to run faucets and sprayers. This will help eliminate waste during food prep, cooking and cleaning.
Shut Down Unused Equipment
Whether you hit a lull in the day or don’t use a specific unit frequently, don’t let your equipment be idle. By powering each unit down, you can save on unnecessary energy consumption.
Coach Yourself and Your Staff
Regularly assess your menu and food preparation methods to see if there are any areas where you need. Also, make sure to remind your kitchen staff of commercial kitchen efficiency best practices. By stressing the importance of water usage, maintenance and equipment operation, you can prevent waste in your kitchen space.
Use OEM Commercial Kitchen Parts
Your foodservice equipment is made to last for years despite heavy use. Using generic non-OEM parts might seem cheaper when you’re making repairs, but it can cost you more money when it comes your energy bill. Fitting your equipment with real OEM parts ensures they’ll run at peak functionality for longer, using less energy in the process.
Consult ENERGY STAR for Advice
ENERGY STAR is a government-backed program that recognizes energy efficiency in appliances, electronics and other products. Their website includes a section on commercial food service equipment, which has helpful advice and products. Some of their tips not only work for large restaurants and fast food chains, but they also apply to smaller dining establishments and cafeterias.