From banning straws to encouraging recycling, the food service industry is evolving and becoming more and more green to meet the demands of its customers and reduce wasteful use for the benefit of us all. However, energy efficiency is an important and often-overlooked component of our duty to reduce wasteful activity.
Ahead of Earth Day, Energy Upgrade California, the consumer initiative to promote smart energy use, has created a list for of practical ways to make food service businesses more energy efficient:
1. Become a leak detective. Inspect weather stripping for deterioration or gaps around doors and window, check out your plumbing and make sure everything is screwed up tight and make sure that the seals of your fridges are clear of food and debris to ensure they are closing tight.
2. Take the thought out of flipping the switch. Install inexpensive occupancy sensors that will always remember to turn off the lights in unoccupied rooms. Then, when it comes time to replace your bulbs, choose LED bulbs, which use 25%–30% of the energy and last 8 to 25 times longer than halogen incandescent bulbs.
3. Manage your freezers. Refrigerators and freezers typically consume the most energy of any type of commercial kitchen equipment, accounting for one third of total electricity usage. Maintain appropriate temperature settings in freezers (-8°F to -14°F) and refrigerators (35°F to 38°F).
4. Pay attention to your ovens. Reduce idle time and turn off backup ovens whenever possible. In terms of energy efficiency, ovens often rate better than broilers, but not as well as steamers and pressure cookers.
5. Don’t tire out your exhaust fan. Installing a variable-speed drive controller can help you manage your exhaust fan by only activating them when necessary, and at the desirable speed. The result? Your exhaust system costs could drop anywhere from 30 to 50%; and you could enjoy a one- to two-year simple payback. To save even more, position each appliance as far back against the wall as possible to maximize hood overhang and close the gap between the appliance and the wall.