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What You Need to Know About The Energy Star Program

Restaurants Save Money and The Environment With the Energy Star Program


More and more people entering the restaurant industry are aware of the environmental footprint their business leaves. Restaurants, by their very nature are wasteful. They use a great deal of energy, from electricity to propane and create a huge amount of waste, from food to paper goods. Today however there are a number of energy efficient options to help restaurants save energy and “Go Green.” A bonus of making energy efficiency a priority in restaurants, is that it saves significant amounts of money over the long run.

Restaurants Waste Energy

According to the Energy Star website, the commercial food sector uses $10 billion (yes, billion) dollars worth of energy. Up to 80% of that energy is wasted through excess heat and noise by inefficient kitchen appliances. According to David Zabrowski, the Senior Engineer and Project Manager at the PG&E Food Service Technology Center, a restaurant kitchen uses five times more energy than the rest of the restaurant. To help curb energy use and rising utilities bills, many restaurant equipment manufactures are producing new commercial appliances that are much more energy efficient, using up to 50% less energy than older models.

What is the Energy Star Program

The Energy Star program began in 1992 as a partnership between the US Environmental Protection Agency and the US Department of Energy, as a way to promote energy efficient products and practices. Computers and monitors were the first products to participate in the voluntary labeling program. Now many major home appliances carry the Energy Star label. Currently the program is extending into the restaurant sector, with six pieces Energy Star approved commercial kitchen equipment available to restaurant owners. Along with testing and promoting energy efficient commercial restaurant equipment, the Energy Star program gives a detailed explanation of how much energy efficient models will save business owners, over less efficient models.

For example, steam cookers use a lot of energy and water to prepare food. A steam cooker with the Energy Star label is up to 90% more efficient than a model without it. That equals an annual savings of over $4000 in water and energy costs. Many states, like California, offer hefty rebate programs for restaurants that purchase commercial equipment with the Energy Star label. The rebates, coupled with energy cost savings make energy efficient commercial equipment even more affordable.

Energy Star Restaurant Equipment Which Offer The Most Savings

The six categories of restaurant equipment that are currently feature the Energy Star label include:

    • Fryers
    • Hot food holding cabinets
    • Solid door refrigerators and freezers (no glass doors, please)
    • Dishwashers
    • Steam cooker
    • Ice machines

It may save you money in the short run to buy cheaper, less energy efficient restaurant equipment, but you can end up paying much more over the long run, when you figure in the price of electricity, gas and sewer costs.

More Tips For Saving Energy

Zabrowski gives several tips on ways to save energy, even is you can’t afford to upgrade to new Energy Star commercial equipment. He recommends keeping appliances off until an hour or so before you need them. Many restaurant kitchens turn all their equipment on first thing in the morning, even though they don’t begin serving until lunchtime. This is a huge waste of energy. Zabrowski also recommends that appliances be turned off during the slow periods during the day, like the lull between lunch and dinner. Finally he suggests using timers and automatic shut offs that control when appliances turn on and off. Of course, if you have gas powered kitchen equipment, this means turning all the pilots back on, which can be a pain in the you-know-what.

While monetary savings from the Energy Star program are a good deal for restaurant owners, the real savings is to the environment in reduced waste, water consumption and green house gas emissions.

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