Industry News | March 5, 2009

10 Energy-Saving Tips from Cook's Direct

Energy conservation is a hot topic these days from restaurants to cafeterias to university dining halls. A recent Energy Star survey found that restaurant owners could increase profits up to 30 percent by simply “going green” in the kitchen. These top 10 savings tips will help you reduce the cost in your energy bill while maximizing profit dollars.

1. Turn It Off!

Just like leaving the lights on in your home, leaving equipment to run idly will cost you hundreds of dollars for unused energy. By turning off your inactive equipment, it saves energy and plenty of cash on your next gas, electric, or water bill. For those times when you forget to turn off equipment after closing, electrical timers can be placed on outlets to automatically flip off equipment when you aren’t around. Energy Saver No. 1: Even if you remember to turn off some equipment, other side tools are often forgotten. For instance, after you turn off your dish machine, don’t forget to turn off the booster heater. Energy Saver No. 2: You can’t turn the whole griddle off, but you can turn off some of the burners during slower business hours. Turn off all the griddle burners except leaving one burner on for off-peak hours. This will save you energy while still keeping kitchen services available.

2. Review Your Lighting

Areas such as walk-in coolers or your dry store room don’t need to be illuminated all day long. Turning off lights as you leave typically unused areas is a great way to save money on your energy bill. Again, electrical timers can be used in these areas, especially if they are commonly forgotten and left on overnight. The kind of lighting you use makes a significant difference in your energy consumption, too. Florescent lighting uses 1/4 to 1/3 less energy than normal bright lights. Replacing bulbs with higher efficient options will show a lower cost in your monthly bill. Energy Saver #3: Higher-efficiency bulbs can be used in areas that require constant lighting. Replace incandescent lights in your walk in cooler with fluorescent lights which are cooler and consume less energy.

3. Reduce Water Consumption

T&S Faucets are designed to support LEED-certification standards by promoting efficient water usage in hand sinks, prep sinks and cleanup sinks. When replacing kitchen equipment, make sure to purchase products that contribute to these standards to help you reduce energy costs. Energy Saver No. 4: Replace older faucets with the newly developed models that conserve water without compromising performance. You can find a list of endorsed products on the official Green Restaurant Association web site. Energy Saver No. 5: Using a standard dishwasher to clean dishes is sufficient for glassware and other kitchen equipment. Don’t pre-wash dishes.

4. Make Your Menu More Efficient

Items that need to be thawed for daily food service can be defrosted in a refrigerator overnight instead of under running water, reducing energy usage and conserving water. Review your menu to see if there are common ingredients or items that can all come from one source. Minimizing the number of individual deliveries you receive weekly will add to your conservation practices and reduce your delivery expenses.

5. Keep Equipment Properly Maintained

Having equipment serviced regularly can catch operational problems. Small problems can become high-cost issues through poor performance or a need for greater amounts of energy to maintain required temperatures for cooking, or cooling foods. Keeping equipment maintained also helps eliminate break downs that cause down time where you may need to use an inefficient cooking method as an alternative until your equipment is repaired or replaced. Energy Saver No. 6: De-lime your steamer regularly to save energy by making your boiler run as efficiently as possible and extending your equipment life.

6. Always Keep Equipment Clean

Setting up a nightly cleaning routine will help you keep equipment running properly so ranges, ovens, and refrigerators perform at their peak efficiency. Clogged burners, for instance, use more energy to heat and cook food. Keep ovens and their doors clean to allow them to heat more efficiently. Energy Saver No. 7: Vacuuming refrigerator coils keeps the cooling machinery operating at maximum efficiency.

7. Close the Door

Don’t leave the convection oven or steamer door open too long, or it will just continue to release heat, burning unnecessary energy to retain the proper cooking temperature. The walk-in cooler is another door that needs to be shut at all times. Energy Saver No. 8: If doors such as the walk-in cooler are consistently left open, place spring hinges on the doors and it will automatically close, eliminating the opportunity for staff to forget to shut the door.

8. Optimize Equipment Capacity

When choosing from the variety of product manufacturers and standard size equipment, purchase only the size that you need to maximize output while minimizing energy usage. Large production equipment isn’t needed if the kitchen doesn’t have a high volume of customers. Buy equipment that is Energy Star Certified. Energy Saver No. 9: When washing dishes in a dishwasher, only run the machine when it is full. 9. Invest in New Energy-Saving Technology

For older kitchens, saving money means replacing old equipment. Although the cost is high in the beginning, over time you earn that money back in utility bills. Newer technologies have been created with energy savings in mind. You can find plenty of highly efficient restaurant equipment at or other online distributors.

10. It Pays to Save Money

Many cities and counties offer energy saving incentives for individuals and corporations who choose to go green. Besides saving hundreds of dollars on your utility bills, you can get money back rebates from the government. To find out more information, visit or contact your local city government for a list of rebates offered by federal and city governments. Energy Saver No. 10: Be sure to check in with your local government offices to take advantage of government incentives and tax benefits for any of the steps you take in your kitchen to reduce your energy usage, such as the energy star equipment rebates. These incentives go straight to your bottom line.

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