Tips to Reduce Your Restaurant's Energy Bill

The Frontier Energy Food Service Technology Center is dedicated to helping the commercial foodservice industry navigate the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic through lower utility bills and increased productivity. As the crisis continues to change daily and directly affect restaurant operations, the FSTC team would like to offer simple energy-saving tips to help shave a little more off your operating costs:

Control Outdoor Lighting & Patio Heating

Many restaurants are reopening for outdoor dining only. The timeclocks for parking lot and other exterior lights are often not set properly, so it’s important to check and reset your timeclocks and make sure your sensors are working. Turn lights ON at dusk and OFF at the end of service. This is a cost effective fix since outdoor lighting can cost way more to operate than indoor lighting. The same consideration should be paid to patio heater use - turn ON when requested, turn OFF when not in use.

The Food Service Technology Center partnered with the National Restaurant Association to create this short video:

Check & Set Refrigerator Thermostats

For restaurants struggling with dining room closures, protecting your refrigerated inventory and keeping your operating costs to a minimum are paramount during this time. Make sure that the thermostats on your refrigerators and freezers are in the safe temperature zone, but not set unnecessarily low. Use a thermometer placed in the back of the box to get a more accurate reading. It is surprising how many refrigerators and freezers have temperature setpoints that are too low.

There are many ways to save energy in a refrigeration system, but properly setting the temperature is the cheapest and easiest. The Food Service Technology Center partnered with the National Restaurant Association to create this short video:

Manage Dishmachine Use & Optimize Hot Water Temperature

Some restaurants are continuing to stay open with take-out service only. This means that there will be a reduced load on dishmachines. Be strategic with your dishmachine use and make sure you are only sending fully loaded racks through the machine. Also, make sure that you are not leaving the dishmachine ON for more hours than is absolutely necessary and turn OFF the corresponding vent fan when you turn the dishmachine OFF.

Another quick energy saver is to make sure that your water heater is set to the proper temperature. The Food Service Technology Center partnered with the National Restaurant Association to create this short video:

Institute A Startup & Shutdown Schedule

With reduced service comes reduced need for cooking and holding equipment. It’s more important than ever to make sure that you are only operating the cooking and holding equipment that you really need at any moment. Turn equipment ON right before it is needed and turn it OFF as soon as service is over. Most cooking equipment preheats in about 15 minutes. Pay special attention to holding equipment and heat lamps, which are easy to overlook but cost a lot to operate.
The Food Service Technology Center partnered with the National Restaurant Association to create this short video:
None of these action items require a restaurant to spend any money beyond the labor required to find-and-fix these common energy-wasting mistakes. It is our sincere hope that our suggestions will help your restaurant weather the storm and be prosperous moving forward.