Dramatic Energy Saving Tips for Restaurants

By Peter Kaplan, United Energy Consultants

May 18, 2016

Restaurants, bars and food warehouses are large consumers of energy and can reduce their overhead on energy substantially by following these guidelines.

By deploying energy management systems for energy intensive applications, facility managers can reduce energy consumption, gain greater levels of insight into their operations and improve safety and productivity. 

  • Fluorescent

Fluorescent lightning technology provides a viable alternative to these energy consuming sodium and halide fixtures. Fluorescent lamps run at a much lower temperature but provides more light output. This allows for potential insurance savings due to reduced fire risk

These can provide energy savings that range from 60 to 80 percent over comparable sodium or metal halide fixtures.

  • Turn off the light

Ensure lights are out when not being used. Energy management systems and motion detectors are now available to turn off the lights on a predetermined schedule.

  • Spot cooling

Use a tube axial fan attached to large flexible tube. The tube has vents located at various points to provide spot cooling.

The use of only one fan to provide controlled cooling decreases the amount of energy spent and also decreases the amount of maintenance previously required by multiple fans. Regular maintenance, such as changing filters, is important for good operation and to avoid energy waste.

  • Dock shelters

Dock shelters most likely won’t be found in warehouse facilities built on spec because they’re more expensive than typical loading docks. During the day, the dock doors should be sealed (except to load a trailer), and the wall fans turned off. This allows the overall temperature of the building to be maintained at or near the night time level. Regularly checking and repairing gaps in the seals around loading-dock doors is a quick energy saver.

  • Insulation

Older insulation is losing energy to the environment.  Spray foam insulation is the most expensive but is twice as efficient as batt. Loose fill is a middle alternative that is easy to install in existing spaces and still provides superior insulation.

  • Space saving

Vertical warehousing helps some companies beat the high cost of land, cut transportation costs, and reduce the operation’s environmental impact. By building the warehouse up instead of out, the warehouse has a smaller footprint, and thus saves on costs. A multi-story warehouse allows a company to operate in a dense urban area, rather than locating miles from the population center. Locating the warehouse near the end-customer also saves on transportation costs. By reducing the amount of space required for storage and retrieval operations, organizations can construct smaller, more energy efficient buildings, shrinking the construction footprint by up to 15% in some cases, conserving natural resources and reducing maintenance costs. This improved space utilization helps reduce energy costs, which helps reduce an organization’s overall carbon footprint.

  • HVAC

Programmable thermostats automatically adjust temperature to preset levels. Installation is simple and the investment can pay for itself quickly for a space that does not require 24/7 heating or cooling. For larger or more complex buildings, consider using a building automation system, a centralized control system that automates operation of HVAC and lighting

Demand controlled ventilation systems are a higher-cost investment than programmable thermostats, but are effective at reducing heating and cooling costs. DCVs determine a building or space’s occupancy level by measuring the concentration of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the return air stream. When CO2 levels are low, the system decreases outdoor air intake, reducing the energy that would have been used to heat and cool the space. The biggest savings are possible for spaces with variable occupancy, such as an auditorium.

Radiant heaters. Consider installing gas or electric radiant heaters in facilities with large open spaces. In many warehouse applications it is costly to maintain temperatures of 60° to 70° Fahrenheit (F). Mounting radiant heaters above work areas can keep employees comfortable with the ambient interior air temperature as low as 40° to 50°F. The reduction in overall indoor air temperature can dramatically reduce energy consumption, sometimes by as much as 50 percent.


  • Plug load management

Plug loads from office equipment such as computers, copiers, printers, and vending machines typically account for about one-fifth of an office energy bill. Setting computers to go into sleep mode after 5 to 20 minutes of inactivity can save $20 to $75 per year, per computer.


  • Energy teams

Establishing an energy team at your business to be responsible for developing projects and pushing an efficiency agenda can ensure that your company’s stated energy-savings goals become a reality. An energy team should include representatives from accounting, operations, and upper management. At each meeting, the team identifies new projects and assigns each member a task. Tasks may include estimating potential energy savings, getting bids from contractors, or investigating new technologies.


Implementing sustainable practices throughout your restaurant, bar or food warehouse will not only save money for the organization, but will increase customer goodwill.  Don’t think of sustainability in terms of costs; think of it as an investment resulting in revenue savings—a better bottom line and a better image that win the respect of your customers and your community.

About: United Energy Consultants is a leading energy cost management consulting firm.  With over 20 years of global experience our programs are a benchmark in the industry. We stay abreast on the latest laws, regulations, and pricing trends that effect our marketplace.

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