Updating Your Restaurant’s Energy Strategy For The Colder Months With UEC (UEC’s Own Managing Director In His Monthly Column In Total Food Services Magazine)

It is always important to plan ahead whether you are a home owner or business owner. With the summer coming to an end, and the sun and fun behind us we must look ahead.

In the energy world looking ahead means preparing a season or two in advance for the weather patterns that Mother Nature may bring us.  The fall and winter’s weather patterns of late, have been getting more extreme and with that bringing severely cold weather, and some very large storm. At United Energy Consultants’ we always council our clientele to prepare for the worst and hope for the best.

Preparation going into the seasons can help reduce your natural gas bill and electric bills by not only saving the restaurateur money but also keeping customers and your staff cozy and warm.

We put together some fall / winter energy-saving tips that we pass along to our customers seasonally. Natural gas is one of the cleanest, safest, and most useful forms of energy in our day-to-day lives. More than 60% of homes in the country use natural gas as their main source of heating. As the winter season comes near, prices increase since there is a greater demand for energy.  While you can’t control the weather outside, you can control several things inside to make a big difference in your bill. Save money and stay cozy with these energy-saving, room-by-room tips.

We suggest that you have a professional inspect your gas furnace at least every other year, and do any recommended maintenance.

As we tour the trade shows, we see how cost efficient it has become to invest in a digital programmable thermostat for more savings and better comfort. This allows you to save energy by setting your restaurant to a lower temperature upon closing. Each degree warmer can increase energy cost by 3 %.

It always amazes us as to how much a foodservice operator can save by simply re-sealing.  Seal air leaks with caulk, spray foam or weather stripping to keep comfortable air in and uncomfortable air out. Start by sealing leaks in your restaurant’s basement and crawl spaces. Next, seal around windows, doors, ductwork and electrical outlets. Don’t hesitate to ask your landlord to help you, because it is going to benefit both of you.

We have seen many restaurants move towards the use of compact fluorescent or LED bulbs. You can lower your lighting bill by converting to energy-efficient, low-wattage lighting and fixtures. There are also many programs that are now available from your restaurant equipment dealers that enable you to replace older appliances with ones that have high energy-efficiency ratings. Note: these may be eligible for federal tax credits or rebates.

We also have found several ways that you can save energy in your restaurant’s dining areas. Keep shades and drapes open during the day to let warm sunlight in, and close them at night to reduce chill from cold windows. If you have ceiling fans run them at a slower speed to circulate warm air. For those of you that have the ambiance of fireplaces double check that the flue is closed when not in use. It’s amazing how a little common sense like keeping furniture, drapes, and other objects from blocking radiators or heating vents can add up to significant savings. It also makes sense if you are not busy on a “Monday” night, why not just close off unused dining areas.

When it comes to your kitchen there are a number of opportunities to maximize your energy efficiency. Cleaning gas stoves and ovens extends the life of the appliances and makes them more energy-efficient. I’m not a chef but it would make sense that you could reach the desired temperature more quickly when heating food by using lids or covers. The basics also include defrosting frozen foods in the refrigerator to reduce cooking time. Why not defrost refrigerators and freezers before ice buildup becomes 1/4 inch thick. Frost makes your unit work harder and wastes energy.

Let’s hope for a mild winter but we are here to help.

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