According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s Guide for Restaurants (2010), commercial kitchens use about 2.5 times more energy per square meter than other commercial spaces. Energy is used for food preparation, HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning), sanitation, lighting, and refrigeration. Given the energy intensive nature of commercial kitchens, any reduction in energy consumption will result in cost savings for your business.
Figure 1. Breakdown of energy costs by kitchen functional area
Source: U.S. EPA. (2010). ENERGY STAR® Guide for Restaurants – Putting Energy into Profit.
Reducing Energy Consumption
The following sections provide information, tips and resources, to reduce energy use in your establishment. These will focus on:
- Kitchen Equipment
- Top 10 Energy Saving Tips for Commercial Kitchens
- Rebates & Incentive Programs
Commercial kitchen equipment can be operated for hours at a time and is often very energy-intensive. In fact, the equipment used for food preparation accounts for 35% of your entire energy use. An electric fryer alone could cost more than $1,000/year in electricity.
If you are looking for new equipment, consider EnergyStar qualified appliances that are designed to be energy efficient. While the upfront cost may be higher in some cases, the appliances can provide a fast payback and ongoing energy savings over the course of its life.
There are 8 types of commercial foodservices equipment that are EnergyStar qualified:
- Ice machines
- Hot food holding cabinets
- Steam cookers
To learn more about EnergyStar qualified equipment, please go to www.energystar.gov/cfs
Kitchen ventilation is also a large energy user. Poorly balanced or designed kitchen ventilation may allow smoke and heat to contaminate your cooking area (called spillage), leading to employee discomfort and higher cooling bills. The following tips are from the US EPA EnergyStar program:
- Install side panels to ventilation hoods to cut down on spillage. This is a low cost solution.
- Maximize the ventilation hood overhang by pushing cooking appliances as close to the wall as possible.
- During non-peak operating times, a demand control ventilation (DCV) system can automatically adjust exhaust rates based on exhaust needs. DCV can reduce exhaust system costs by 30% – 50% and can be retrofitted to existing hoods or installed with new equipment.
Lighting accounts for approximately 13% of total energy costs in a typical restaurant. This is not surprising when you consider that the lights are on an average of 16 to 20 hours every business day. In addition to its role in energy use, lighting is a major component of the restaurant’s atmosphere.
When replacing lamps, be sure to maintain the desired color rendition, such as cool white or warm white light. Today’s compact florescent light bulbs (CFLs) are more energy-efficient and versatile than ever. They can be used with standard dimmer switches, photo sensors, electronic timers and occupancy sensors. Their light is similar to soft white incandescent lamps, and the base allows direct retrofit into existing incandescent fixtures.
Energy Efficiency Comparison of LED, Incandescent and Florescent Light Bulbs. Adapted from Design Recycle Inc. (2013)
Energy Efficiency and Cost
Average life span
|1,200 hours||8,000 hours||50,000 hours|
Watts of electricity used, equivalent to 60 watt bulb
|60 watts||13-15 watts||6-8 watts|
Kilo watts of electricity used
(30 incandescent bulbs per year equivalent)
|3285 KWh/yr||767 KWh/yr||329 KWh/yr|
Annual operating cost
(30 incandescent bulbs per year equivalent)
Light emitting diode, or LED, lights are becoming increasingly popular for decorative lighting and signage. When installed throughout a building, LED exit signs can save hundreds or even thousands of dollars in annual energy and maintenance costs. One sign alone can save about $10 annually on electricity costs and can last up to 10 years without a lamp replacement, compared to less than one year for an incandescent.
The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador’s Turn Back The Tide campaign focusing on energy efficiency and climate change provides excellent information on indoor and exterior lighting. For further information, please go:
The EnergyStar program has a number of qualified light fixtures and bulbs, used in both the front and back of the house encompassing fluorescent and LED technology. Please check out the following site to learn more: www.energystar.gov/lightbulbs
* Remember that all fluorescent lamps contain mercury; though the amount keeps
decreasing with manufacturing improvements, the lamps are considered hazardous waste and must be disposed of carefully.
It Doesn’t Have to Cost
Not all energy efficiency measures cost money. In fact, many cost nothing at all!
The following are a list of suggestions from Newfoundland Power.
- Use occupancy sensors in washrooms and storage areas to turn lights off automatically when the space is unoccupied.
- Keep lamps and fixtures clean. For maximum performance, clean fixtures every two or three years.
- Remove lamps and lights that are not required.
- Adjust lighting levels to match work needs at different times of the day.
- Encourage employees to turn off lights when not in use and at the end of the day
Top 10 Energy Savings Tips for Commercial Kitchens
Adapted from the Food Service Warehouse (2012)
1. Buy energy-efficient equipment. ENERGY STAR® awards energy-efficient qualifications to a variety of commercial kitchen equipment. A typical restaurant can save up to $15,000 each year by outfitting their kitchen with energy-efficient or ENERGY STAR® qualified equipment.
2. Maintain your equipment. Regularly cleaning equipment, changing air filters and checking seals and gaskets can have a big impact on the energy-efficiency of your appliances.
3. Pay attention to HVAC. Heating, ventilation and air conditioning accounts for about 28% of a typical restaurant’s energy expenses. To save up to $1,500 every year, invest in energy-efficient AC and hoods. Also, installing a programmable thermostat will give you more control by scheduling the times you turn on the heating or air conditioning. You will save money by not space conditioning an unoccupied restaurant.
4. Use energy-efficient lighting. Efficient lighting could mean huge savings for your business. Every bulb you switch to fluorescent lighting saves about $30 in energy costs over the bulb’s lifetime. Be sure to use LED exit lighting.
5. Establish a start-up and shutdown schedule. Eliminate idle time for your appliances. Only turn on cooking and heating equipment 20 minutes before you need it. This should be enough time for most equipment to preheat. Lights, hoods, ranges, signs and fans should all be turned off when not in use.
6. Conserve hot water. Use cold water whenever possible. Insulate hot-water pipes, regularly check your water temperature and follow all the general guidelines for water conservation to save even more money.
7. Retrofit old equipment. Refrigerator strip curtains, high-efficiency evaporative fan motors, variable-speed hood fans and low-flow pre-rinse spray valves are just a few products that can add up to save you thousands of dollars every year.
8. Rearrange your kitchen. Separate your cooling equipment from your cooking equipment so your refrigerators do not have to work as hard. Group the hottest appliances, like broilers, steamers and open burners, under the same vent.
9. Train your employees. Saving energy could be as simple as closing a refrigerator door, turning off a burner, or turning off a light. Engaging your employees in energy efficiency is key to your success. Let them know that energy conservation is a priority.
10. Get an energy assessment. You cannot manage what you do not understand or are unaware of. Proceeding with an energy assessment or audit will help you understand your restaurant’s energy use processes and will identify opportunities for energy savings and cost reductions. You can bring in outside help or even do an assessment yourself.
The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador Turn Back The Tides campaign offers excellent energy assessment resources.
Rebates & Incentive Programs
There are a number of rebates and incentive programs that you can explore to help offset the cost of energy efficiency improvements.
1. Newfoundland Power Commercial Lighting Program
This program provides rebates for businesses wishing to upgrade to efficient lighting and exit sign lighting.
2. Isolated Systems Business Efficiency Program
This program targets Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro’s commercial customers in isolated systems, providing support and financial incentives for a wide range of energy saving projects.
3. The Green Fund
The $25 million Newfoundland and Labrador Green Fund was designed to support projects that provide real net reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. The Fund is open to businesses, institutions, environmental groups, or individuals seeking to develop applicable innovative projects in Newfoundland and Labrador.