Cooking equipment tops list of kitchen energy guzzlers

Curry restaurant

Cooking equipment still dwarfs other kit in restaurant energy consumption and holds the key to saving major costs for operators, a leading sustainability consultant has said.

On average, cooking accounts for 42% of UK restaurant energy consumption and, with catering typically making up between 4% and 6% of entire operating costs, the use of energy efficient cooking equipment can potentially deliver large savings.

Speaking at the Gram Go Green Summit yesterday, Clephane Compton, sustainability and resource efficiency specialist at Sustainable Consulting, said it was clear that operators are starting to invest in more efficient equipment because they know it will generate savings in the longer term.

After cooking, refrigeration makes up for 28% of energy consumption, HVAC is 13%, lighting is 10% and warewashing is 4%.

Compton said that it’s important be able to provide a break down because energy bills can be seen as just a set cost and looking at each cost in detail is useful.

Casual dining groups such as Wahaca have taken measures to reduce costs. The Mexican-themed chain has 90% LED lighting, back of house is all LED and there are presence sensors back of house to reduce the amount of time lights are on.

Compton said: “Variable air volume technology has been installed on all their extracts, which ramps the fan speed on the kitchen extract up or down according to when it’s used – there are temperature and grease sensors that detect when the cooking’s taking place and reduce the fan speed accordingly.”

He explained that Wahaca uses heat recovery from its walk-in freezers and fridges, which takes the wasted heat and uses it to heat up hot water. A number of Wahaca sites do not have gas fired traditional water boilers.

Compton believes staff best practice is an overlooked area in terms of energy consumption and the benefit it can have on energy efficiency and cost savings. As an example, he noted how he visited operators where staff had overridden the incoming thermostat so all hot air was heated  to 38 degrees.

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