In the UK, after labour, paying for energy is the highest expense for food businesses. So how can restaurants, cafes and eateries make their kitchens more energy efficient to lower costs?
In any household, the gas and electricity bill at the end of the month usually takes a big chunk of money from your pay check. Just like any home, food businesses - like restaurants and cafes - reduce their profits significantly by having to pay energy bills.
According to Big Hospitality, after labour, energy is the second highest controllable cost for restaurants in the UK,, amounting to over £1.3 billion each year. However, three-quarters of restaurateurs don’t have the tools or knowledge to make positive energy-efficient savings, claims E.ON. By implementing an efficient energy plan, companies can make huge savings, which can then be transferred into improving other areas of the business.
Even when we push financial savings to one side, wasting energy is having a detrimental impact on our planet with the food sector responsible for high carbon emissions. So how can we change these statistics? Here we take a look at how food businesses can make their kitchens more energy efficient.
One of the best ways to get your employees on board with your vision of becoming more energy efficient is to set realistic targets across the company. This will help show employees progress in the long-term (if these targets are met), while also helping you measure the impact on the company's finances.
However, these targets must be realistic. Instead of setting ambitious goals that will be difficult to meet, set a number of achievable targets that will reassure staff they are heading in the right direction.
Encourage workers to adopt an ‘every little helps’ attitude, where even the slightest actions contribute to the wider energy-saving picture. However, in order to do this, you must engage your workforce so they understand why it’s important to think this way. This means providing them with a simple plan and training them on how to save energy.
Employers can also measure the progress of staff and reward them when they are successful, as this will provide them with an incentive to help save energy.
When it comes to being energy efficient, it pays off to be sustainable and invest in new kitchen equipment. Electric hobs, for example, convert 85 per cent of their energy into heat for cooking compared with 40 per cent for gas hobs because the burner doesn’t create heat and therefore there is no need for air conditioning or fans.
Becoming Carbon Neutral is also a growing trend, with Mexican food chain Wahaca becoming the first UK restaurant to be certified Carbon Neutral. None of the chain’s new restaurants have boilers and instead generate hot water from heat captured by the extractors or the fridges and freezers. It is believed that restaurants using 6,000 litres of hot water per day, could save £12,000 each year and reduce CO2 by 49 tonnes a year, should they follow Wahaca’s energy-efficient strategy.
While this will be difficult to do manually, it’s worth installing monitoring systems to help collect data so you are able to review your systems and appliances. You will then be able to see which appliances consume the most energy, and whether or not this can be justified.
You will also be able to spot patterns in the use of energy to see the times of year, month, or day, which could help you better plan your finances.