Optimising energy efficiency in the restaurant industry

Align your business volume and energy consumption to avoid a mismatch between need and consumption says Dhillon

Energy usage is one of the largest outgoing costs for a restaurant operator. However, this can be reduced without any equipment upgrades or overhauls. Har Amrit Pal Singh (HAPS) Dhillon of Wipro EcoEnergy explains.

When it comes to optimising energy efficiency, the restaurant operator needs to ensure that energy consumption is aligned to business volume and there is minimal mismatch between need and consumption. 

The easiest way to do this is to establish a service window framework, which helps you align business intensity with the restaurant’s energy intensity. All you need is some analysis and pattern detection skills, and you can save up to 15 per cent on energy costs without making any major investments. 

Know your restaurant service windows 

Every restaurant goes through a varied business load on any given day or week. One way to analyze the consumption pattern is to break it down to a service window level. Service windows are uniquely identifiable and can distinguish the energy consumption profile of a restaurant which is fairly repeatable day after day. Some examples of the service windows would be: crew set-up, pre-breakfast, etc. 

Outline your restaurant behavior for service windows 

Once the service windows are identified, it is important to develop an outline of policies to be followed in each of these, keeping in mind food safety and customer comfort. Understanding your equipment and lighting can help to establish policies that are required only across the priority service windows.   

Controlling kitchen equipment during setup or shut down 

Restaurant operators need to continuously strike a balance between having equipment in ready-to-cook mode and making sure it does not inflate their energy bills. Analyzing the energy consumption pattern of critical high-impact equipment helps control schedules during setup, shutdown, no-operation and lean periods. Simple steps like putting equipment on standby, closing the platens of grills and covering the fryer vats can easily save hundreds of pounds in energy costs. 

Control HVAC across service windows 

Dining area temperature control is a critical aspect of the restaurant business because it impacts customer comfort. Similarly, the kitchen area temperature is critical from an employee health and safety perspective. Temperature deviations are common and can inflate the monthly bill by 5-6 per cent. It is important to have a definition of set points for the various service windows as well as have a clear schedule for the heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning (HVAC) units aligned to various service windows. 

Control restaurant lighting 

Restaurants use a variety of lighting for various purposes. Not only does the lighting requirement inside the restaurant change during the day, but also certain types of lighting including signage and parking may not be required at all. Having a clear plan for scheduling the lights across the services windows can easily save 3-4 per cent on energy bills while it helps bring down restaurant cooling load. 

Continuously benchmark and improve

Restaurant operators often struggle to benchmark their restaurants with respect to energy usage due to the many variables involved – business volumes, menus offered, schedules, age of the restaurants, weather, etc. Comparative analysis of their consumption in the different service windows can help identify operational issues. 

Make staff service window “energy aware”

With the high staff churn rates in the restaurants, good energy saving behavior and practices need to be constantly reinforced. Creating easy-to-understand energy dashboards based on service windows help in training the staff to analyze the service windows and identify where the leakages have been. 

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