Operators burning money by failing to track kitchen costs

Commercial kitchen

A lack of awareness over the methods available to track catering equipment energy consumption is leading operators to lose out on huge savings, industry experts claim.

With utility costs soaring and operators not always fully aware of which appliances consume more energy than others, the smart metering of kitchens or equipment has been cited as one solution to helping end-users become better informed about their habits.

Speaking at an industry panel session on the subject, Dominic Burbridge, associate director of the Carbon Trust, said that while it’s true that “you can’t manage what you don’t measure”, a lack of understanding and awareness over what can actually be tracked is leaving the industry confused.

“Just getting your organisation to take metre readings is actually a great starting point,” he said. “Large organisations will normally have half hourly metering in place and so they are getting accurate billing. It’s a case of actually going to your energy supplier and saying ‘I want that data’ because the data exists.”

One of the challenges is that some of the smart metres currently in use tend to give remote readings without necessarily splitting out where the energy is going.

Simon Lee, food and beverage manager at Staycity Serviced Apartments, admits this can be an issue. “If you have got a kitchen within a hotel then it is very difficult at the moment to be able to say what’s being used throughout the bedrooms and what’s being used throughout the kitchen to be able to target people on the CO2 reduction.

“Being able to split those two out is very powerful as it would allow you to then see and target the kitchen directly and find out why some kitchens are using more energy than others and at what times the energy is being used. Smart metering is something that is definitely coming in because companies want more visibility to what’s being used.”

The Carbon Trust’s Burbridge insists that there is the technology available now for operators to be able to drill down into the different parts of their business.

“For the cost of about £300 you can start breaking that out per metre, which will allow you to start directing your efforts towards what kit is using the most energy. You can also do a bit of load analysis to see where the usage hotspots are.

“Once you’ve got measurements you can start having KPIs and feeding back to people because if you are going to engage people it is good to give them feedback about what works and what they are doing well. It helps keep that virtuous circle.”

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