How to extract energy savings from restaurant appliances

Restaurant owners who invest in making their appliances more sustainable are not only helping the environment but also likely saving a bundle of money in the long run. Energy improvement can be made either by replacing older equipment or tweaking maintenance on old equipment. SmartBrief recently reached out to Hobart, Traulsen and Baxter Manufacturing with questions about how restaurant owners can increase energy savings. An edited version of their responses follows.

Are there any restaurant appliances that are big energy wasters but that owners don’t normally think to replace?

John Davis, business development manager of Traulsen:

I wouldn’t classify them as “energy wasters,” but older refrigeration systems can be “energy hogs.” Newer standards have made refrigeration units much more energy efficient, but restaurant owners might be using units that are 10 to 15 years old. Although the older unit might “run well,” it’s important to consider the savings that an energy-efficient refrigerator or freezer can provide over the long term. An older unit with a dirty condenser coil can consume twice the energy of a brand-new unit. Also, it’s worth noting that using the right piece of equipment for the job can affect energy consumption. For example, using a reach-in or walk-in unit to chill hot food will cause the unit to consume more energy. In this case, a blast chiller is more appropriate and economical in the long run.

What are some quick tips for keeping restaurant equipment maintained and repair costs low?

Sean Boston, director of strategic marketing at Hobart Service:

Two words: Preventive maintenance. It costs much less to maintain equipment than to repair or replace it. Here are a few tips from Hobart Service to help restaurants ensure cooking equipment is operating smoothly and sustainably.

  • Inspect parts for wear, blockage or obstruction; check tension of belts, chains, etc., and make adjustments as necessary.
  • Regularly clean components such as condenser coils on refrigerators and freezers. A dirty condenser can reduce efficiency by as much as 50%.
  • Lubricate necessary components; check for leaks; and de-lime warewashers and steam-based equipment regularly.
  • Consider using a professional service to ensure preventive maintenance is completed correctly and routinely.

What are some ways for restaurant owners to measure energy savings?

Jenny Bair, LEED AP BD+C and segment market manger for Hobart, Traulsen and Baxter:

A good place to start is by talking with local providers of energy, water and waste collection and asking what types of energy-efficiency programs, audits or monitoring equipment they offer. One quick and easy method for estimating energy savings is the Savings Calculator at the Sustainable Food Equipment website. This free tool, which is based on ENERGY STAR savings, estimates how much users could save in energy and water when switching to ENERGY STAR qualified equipment.