Less Is More: How To Make Your Commercial Kitchen Even More Energy Efficient
Commercial kitchen equipment is notoriously expensive, and many kitchen owners struggle to make their kitchens profitable.
You might be trying to bring on more clients, cut down on staff, or source cheaper ingredients. But have you considered making your kitchen more energy efficient instead?
Running a more efficient kitchen operation is a great way to save money. You'll also be able to advertise yourself as an environmentally friendly company, which can be a huge bonus when it comes to attracting new customers. Most importantly, though, you'll get to keep more of your profits so you can reinvest them in your business.
In this guide, we've put together our top tips for making a more energy-efficient commercial kitchen. Keep reading to learn more!
1. Use Less Water
Conserving water is one of the most important factors in energy efficiency.
Find spray valves and other equipment that use less water to do the same job, and watch your bills go down. Double-check for pipes or equipment that leaks. Don't forget to make a company policy of turning off the water when it's not in use.
2. Check Gaskets and Seals
This is also a great time to check gaskets and seals on all of your equipment for leaks.
Water might be leaking out of a loose seal. Loose seals on a refrigerator or oven door can also let the air out, so the machine uses more energy to stay hot or cold. Seal everything up tightly, and you'll save a lot of energy.
Most of the time, gaskets and seals need replacing every three to five years. However, if you find a crack or split on inspection, replace it right away.
You can also install cooler curtains in the walk-in fridge or freezer. This helps the unit keep its temperature by cutting down on airflow, adding a sort of "seal" over the entrance.
3. Offer a Training Session
Do your employees know what to do to make your kitchen more energy efficient? Chances are, they don't -- and they won't until you train them.
Have a training session to let them know what's expected of them to improve efficiency. If having everyone attend an in-person training isn't practical, offer a video or text training instead. You might have a short test later to make sure they actually went over the materials.
Make sure to both train your new hires, and to offer updated training to your existing employees so everyone's on the same page.
4. Reduce Idle Appliance Time
Many times, your industrial appliances stay on even when they're not actively being used. Could some of them be turned off so you're not needlessly spending energy during this time?
During your main hours of operation, you might need everything to be on. But when you're doing the prep at the start of the day or cleaning up at the end, they can be switched off.
Make a plan for when all equipment gets turned on and off, and don't forget to include that plan in your employee training. Adjust this plan as needed, according to your schedule. For example, it might need to be different during the busy holiday season.
5. Clean Regularly
The cleaner your equipment is, the more efficiently it can operate. It'll also last longer, reducing the amount of money you need to spend on replacements.
Has debris built up on the bottom of your oven? If so, the door might not be able to seal properly. Is the base of your fryer full of sediment? This can make it less efficient, so it takes more energy to run.
6. Invest in Energy Star Equipment
If you're building a new commercial kitchen or adding a new piece of equipment to an existing one, make sure what you buy is Energy Star certified.
Energy Star equipment uses much less energy to get the same job done. Although it will cost a little more upfront, the amount of money you save on your regular bills is worth it.
You can also install energy-efficient equipment in the bathrooms and in any other part of your commercial kitchen that uses appliances.
7. Switch Out the Lighting
Bright lighting is essential for a commercial kitchen. But if it's not efficient, the lighting can cost you lots of money.
Get LED or CFL bulbs that use less energy than the typical light bulb. These efficient bulbs also last longer than the regular ones, so you'll save time and money on replacements.
8. Use Management Wisely
In addition to offering training, you should use your system of management to ensure that processes are happening in an energy-efficient way.
Management will help your employees by reminding them to follow procedures. Don't be too hard on an employee who forgets to turn off a tap or check a seal. Commercial kitchens are busy places, and it's hard to keep track of everything.
By encouraging your managers to take ownership of efficiency, you can help your employees get their jobs done while remembering to do so efficiently.
9. Maintain Equipment Well
Your old equipment might seem to still be running well enough. But if you don't do regular maintenance, it will start to use more energy over the years.
Use your restaurant team for maintenance tasks, or bring in professionals as needed. Even if you can't afford to upgrade your appliances, a little bit of maintenance goes a long way.
Don't neglect small repairs, either. A little bit of damage or a small leak can soon turn into a huge energy cost.
How Much Will You Save With an Energy Efficient Kitchen?
You can save hundreds, maybe even thousands, on your energy bills with these simple changes. Start with the most manageable ones, and work your way up to even bigger savings as you go.
Of course, you may not be able to start out by buying new equipment. But make it your goal for the future, and start shopping around for energy-efficient equipment today. Wondering what to buy? Check out our buying guides here!