Whether fast food or fine dining, restaurants are one of the nation’s largest energy consumers, yielding significantly higher operating costs. This creates a brutal reality for operations, facilities and energy managers who live in a world where margins matter more than ever. The euphemism, “they’re trying to squeeze blood out of a turnip,” resonates – it’s virtually impossible to remain profitable without a strategy for cutting costs to offset the utility bill.
Here are 3 smart building solutions tips to reduce energy consumption, offset operational costs and increase profitability.
Educating Your Staff and Equipment Efficiencies
Your kitchen staff is busy and ideally focused on quality food, short wait times and customer satisfaction. In efforts to stay ahead, they keep equipment like grills, fryers and heat lamps running at the maximum temperature, continuously consuming electricity. To reduce energy consumption and extend equipment life implement internal operating processes to save energy. Provide your kitchen staff with a checklist for ‘powering off’ during down time, educate them on the energy saving mechanisms you’re implementing and make them aware of the potential costs savings and intended results so they become stakeholders in your larger corporate objectives to drive profitability. By decreasing your equipment’s idle temperature, you can offset energy costs with no disruption to your staff’s efficiency because kitchen equipment powers on and heats quickly.
You can also purchase more energy efficient kitchen equipment – use convection ovens, steamers, and microwaves instead of broilers, salamanders and standard ovens.
Finally, when replacing equipment, seek out Energy Star approved products with ratings that prove reduction in annual energy usage. Although these products cost more upfront, you’ll quickly recoup the costs lowering your utility bill.
Develop Measurable KPIs
To drive results and profit margins set measurable key performance indicators (KPIs) to quantify the savings that result from your reduction in electricity. Numbers give your shareholders something to hang their hat on, you’ll gain corporate buy-in, and your kitchen staff can better understand how their diligence in ‘powering off’ results in real savings and sustainability.
Figuring out how each menu item is created can help you identify inefficiencies in the cooking process and speed up cooking time. This will help recognize where needless energy is expended but also increase customer satisfaction by getting food out quicker.
Schedule regular maintenance checks and log the results. Have your head cook check on a daily basis the pilot light for a stove. If the flame is couple of inches tall or yellow, it’s probably using too much energy calling for an adjustment until its small and blue. In addition, instituting regular cleanings for the grill, oven, and range burners will maximize their efficiency and life.
Don’t Forget About Lighting
On average, lighting accounts for 13% of a restaurant’s energy use. Most restaurants have rush hours, usually early morning, lunch, and dinner with lulls in between. This means not every light in your restaurant will need to be on all day. Install occupancy sensors to detect when the lights should be off.
Know and understand the layout of your real estate and reduce lighting in rooms with adequate natural light. Your customers will welcome the sunlight and enjoy its ambient effect. After all, most of us cohabitate in office space illuminated by artificial, fluorescent lights 8-10 hours a day.
Using dimmers will also impact restaurant operating costs allowing you to maintain lighting in various rooms of your restaurant, adjust their output throughout the day and decrease energy usage.
By implementing these smart building solution tips for profitability, you’ll gain more control of energy costs and increase margins.