Energy Conservation for Commercial Caterers
Maintaining comfort whilst minimising bottom line costs is high on the list for most if not all in the catering and hospitality sector. Energy conservation for commercial caterers is an important consideration, as they strive to maintain the right environment for customers, staff and products. It is also no surprise that this sector is amongst the highest of energy consumers when it comes to users of commercial space. So what can kitchens do to stay ahead of the bills and avoid nasty surprises? In this article, we look at some of the options available.
It may surprise you that surveys over recent years indicate that commercial kitchens consume on average 2.5% more energy than other commercial spaces. And yet, according to the UK Carbon Trust, as little as 40% is actually directly consumed in the preparation of food. A huge amount of energy is dissipated into the working environment, where it is simply wasted. The majority of this energy is lost through the use of aging or inefficient equipment.
Leading researchers have estimated the energy cost of various cooked meals as follows:
- Snack bars: 4 pence
- Coffee shops: Over 7 pence
- Steak houses: 18 pence
- Traditional English restaurants: 19 pence
- High-class restaurants: 27 pence
- Hotel restaurants: Almost 36 pence
In practice, the majority of restaurateurs will admit that they rarely see this aspect of cost. Instead, the focus has traditionally been on the cost of ingredients and working hours. It is easy to see where there is scope to improve margins and work towards a better bottom line!
One of the most commonly seen issues is commercial caterers tend to use efficient kitchen equipment. There are two primary reasons for this – firstly, budget limitations. Companies are often reluctant to invest in newer, better-rated equipment when their current equipment appears to do the job effectively. Secondly, companies tend not to invest sufficiently in service and upkeep. Proper cleaning of ventilation and filters, replacement of worn components etc can make big differences.
Another interesting way to monitor efficiency is to review energy usage frequently. A sudden, unexplainable rise in energy usage could be a warning sign that a piece of equipment needs maintenance.
Think Long Term
When it comes to energy conservation for commercial caterers, many establishments tend to see equipment as a short term investment based on their immediate needs. To become a greener kitchen, it is important to start seeing things from the wider perspective.
It can be highly beneficial to measure the lifecycle cost of a new purchase and comparing this to projections for current equipment. In many cases, investing in newer equipment can actually offer real time savings that more than cover the initial expense.
Investing in a service plan that includes routine maintenance by an accredited partner can also increase the lifespan of an investment, as well as ensure it continues to run at optimum performance.
Taking time to plan the layout of the kitchen and encouraging staff to play an active role can also bring significant benefits. When it comes to refrigeration, for example, you might wish to consider the following:
- Site fridges and freezers away from cookers and keep coldroom doors closed so they do not have to work harder to maintain the desired temperature. Ensure they have plenty of ventilation and that staff do not inadvertently block ventilation panels.
- Avoid overloading a fridge/freezer, which affects airflow, reducing the cabinet or coldroom’s ability to chill effectively.
- Install door closers or alarms to prevent employees from accidentally leaving fridge/freezer doors open.
- Don’t keep frozen foods at temperatures colder than needed – increase the temperature of frozen food and product stores from -25°C to -20°C and save 10% of the refrigeration energy.
There are many ways that the commercial caterer can reduce energy consumption and as a result not only contribute to a greener planet but also reduce the bottom line cost of their menu. With professional servicing playing such an important role, it makes sense to choose a company that has a wealth of experience and holds accreditations with all the leading brands.
To learn more about what Carlton Services can do to help you, give your local service centre a call now or use our online form to request advice from an expert.