Do you know how much energy your kitchen is using? Do you know where to look and what to do to cut energy waste?
The Food Service Technology Center’s Todd Bell shared his Top 10 Tips for Energy & Water Savings in Commercial Foodservice seminar last month, focusing on low-cost and no-cost actions that don’t require a professional to implement. By following these tips, you can take control of your own restaurant and start saving on your utility bill right NOW!
1. Conduct an Electric Rate Analysis
PG&E offers several different rate plans. Check to make sure you’re on the right one—if you aren’t, it could be costing you extra dollars. For non-PG&E customers, contact your local utility for information on their specific rate plans and online energy tracking systems.
For PG&E customers, go online to PG&E’s MyEnergy (an excellent resource for managers to track energy usage over time online), then to My Rates. Here you’ll see the estimated cost of each plan they offer calculated from your actual energy use.
But it doesn’t end with choosing the right plan – check your usage regularly to spot anomalies. You might find a leak, or something left on when it should be turned off. You can even overlay weather data to see if your usage is due to heating or air conditioning. The better you know your usage, the easier it is to manage.
2. Tune up the Water Heating System – Calibrate, Insulate, Regulate, Activate!
Water heating is a big energy consumer – nearly one fifth of the average restaurant utility bill. For many, it’s consumption could be lowered with little effort. Ensure you’re not wasting energy and money by following these steps:
a. Calibrate – Set Water Heater to Proper Temperature
First find out the delivery water temperature you need, usually dictated by the dish machine. Then set the thermostat – the below pictures show where it is on a gas (left) and electric (right) water heater. Finally, use a thermometer to verify the delivery temperature at a dishwashing sink. Some heat will be lost as it travels through the pipes, so you may have to adjust the water heater once more.
b. Insulate – Install Hot Water Line Insulation
If you don’t insulate, you could be throwing away hundreds of dollars per year. Insulation is cheap and rebated at $2 per linear foot. It is also easy to install, especially for exposed pipes (but every bit helps!). For best results, use 1-inch professional quality foam insulation.
c. Regulate – Turn Off Hot Water Line Recirculation Pump During Non-Service Hours
The job of a recirculation pump (pictured on the right) is to keep hot water flowing in the pipes when it otherwise wouldn’t, so you don’t have to wait long for hot water at the tap. The downside is that there is some heat/energy loss as the water moves through the piping. So as long as it is moving water, it is losing heat. And as long as it is losing heat, the water heater is powering on to provide more heat. This is why turning the pump off when closed will save energy.
If you’re worried about adding one more thing to the daily to-do list, don’t; time clocks are affordable and can do it for you with a quick setting – potentially saving you hundreds of dollars per year. Set it and forget it!
d. Activate – Turn On the Automated Flue Damper
If you have a gas heater with an automatic flue damper – turn it on! Otherwise some of the heat that you just paid to generate is escaping right out the flue. It’s easy to do… just turn the switch to the automatic setting.