One of the highest costs of running a household or a business is the energy bill associated with maintaining the building. If you are a food business, you need to consider the cost of not only heating and cooling the building, but also the heating and cooling of the food, from storing produce and refreshments, to cooking methods like ovens and sous vide. The District of Columbia Sustainable Energy Utility (DCSEU) has provided a series a ways to help recover from the vast expense of running a food business during the winter:
Restaurants use about 2.5 times more energy per square foot than other commercial buildings. After a long and cold winter, high energy bills can take a toll on your bottom line. Here are 5 easy ways to recover from those high winter energy bills.
Healthy energy habits. Incorporating small, energy-saving habits into your daily routine can add up over time. Try setting your cooling thermostat a few degrees warmer. When you ease back on central cooling by just 3°F, you can trim air conditioning costs by 12 to 15 percent. Consider also implementing startup and shutdown plans to make sure you are using only the equipment that you need, when you need it. Equipment left on when not performing useful work wastes energy and costs you money.
Take control of your lighting. Replacing old bulbs with new, high-efficiency CFLs and LEDs can save 50-75% on energy use. Concerned about ambiance? Don’t forget your back-of-house. Changing incandescent light bulbs in walk-in refrigerators to ENERGY STAR® CFLs or LEDs can also reduce heat output by 75% per lamp, saving you energy and money.
Cool it down. Heating and cooling systems account for a large portion of your restaurant’s annual energy use. Stay up-to-date with maintenance for your HVAC system, and never wait to repair or replace an old or failing system. Also, try taking steps to ensure your kitchen keeps its cool—a poorly designed kitchen exhaust system can allow heat and smoke to spill into your kitchen, affecting air quality and raising utility bills. By installing a demand controlled ventilation system, you can cut down on heating and cooling costs by 30-50%.
Be an ENERGY STAR. Simple efficiency upgrades on the equipment you use every day can save you hundreds of dollars each year. When replacing or upgrading equipment, look for the ENERGY STAR® label to save energy and money. For example, the most efficient combination ovens will use about 50% less energy and water than the inefficient models.
It pays to save. The DC Sustainable Energy Utility (DCSEU) offers up to $80,000 in energy efficiency rebates per business for restaurants located in DC. Rebates are available for lighting, HVAC, refrigeration, cooking equipment, and more. Located in Maryland or Virginia? Check out the resources offered by Dominion’s Energy Conservation Program (VA) and EmPOWER Maryland.