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Top 5 Energy Saving Myths for Restaurants

Aug 11, 2017 11:33:37 AM

Restaurant energy savings and kitchen

Restaurateurs and franchisees will most often think of energy-efficient lightbulbs and appliances to conserve energy and save on energy costs. While LED lighting and ENERGY STAR® appliances are fantastic, they may not offer the biggest bang for your bucks. The payback on many of these items is often well over five years.

Myth #1: Once you've upgraded to Halogen, CFL or LED lighting, you've pretty much capped worthy energy efficiency gains for your restaurant(s).

In reality, there are several more ways to increase energy efficiency. Some examples include:

  1. Buying more energy-efficient appliances
  2. Scheduling the on/off times of your kitchen equipment based on opening, closing and rush times
  3. Scheduling indoor and outdoor lighting
  4. Optimizing the sequential function of exhaust hoods and makeup air units (MAUs)
  5. Installing a smart HVAC system

Myth #2: More efficient appliances are the obvious next step in restaurant energy savings.

According to the National Restaurant Association, the payback on energy-efficient equipment can take between 11 to 21 years at existing restaurants. Do you have that kind of time? Along with energy-efficient lighting, an energy-efficient HVAC system could provide you with the greatest ROI along with the benefits of pressure control throughout your restaurant, guest comfort due to reduced temperature imbalances, more fresh outside air and "free cooling," and remote monitoring and control of conditions at each location.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) Commercial Buildings Energy Consumption Survey, the average restaurant consumes about twice much energy per square foot as the average office building. And, 28% of energy costs go to HVAC. Imagine cutting that cost in half...

Average restaurant energy use from U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

 

Myth #3: Exhaust hoods and makeup air units (MAUs) work best when they are always on.

In fact, optimized exhaust hoods can be run at lower speeds, which allows you to conserve energy. When exhaust hoods and MAUs are in balance, the pressure and ventilation of both your kitchen and dining area will be in balance. It is best to run slightly more positive pressure in your dining area to ensure excess hot air and unwanted odors from the kitchen are kept out of the dining area.

Myth #4: Heating or cooling the entryway is a waste of energy.

Maintaining a comfortable temperature balance and air pressure in your entryway are actually key components to preserving airflow and temperature balance in the rest of your restaurant. A positive pressure imbalance can cause inside air to rush out of your restaurant when doors open, and a negative pressure imbalance can cause outside air to rush in.

A cold air temperature imbalance in your entryway can affect the temperature of your plenum space, which may cause your HVAC system to work harder to maintain temperature balances of the dining area and the kitchen. A cold plenum space can also risk freezing water or other beverage lines you may have running through it. Rather than removing ceiling tiles to keep the plenum space warm, seek a frostless plenum solution from your HVAC company.

Smart node, ceiling tile and plenum space

Myth #5: The efficiency of rooftop units (RTUs) cannot be improved.

Improving the efficiency of RTUs is a specialty of 75F. More than half of the RTUs we and other HVAC efficiency installers encounter have economizers that are stuck in one position. An economizer is meant to modulate open and closed based on the temperature and quality of outside air. When it doesn't modulate, you are wasting energy and money. The 75F Outside Air Optimization solution upgrades the effectiveness of your economizers and optimizes the performance of your RTUs in all seasons. Combined with Dynamic Airflow Balancing, your existing HVAC system components are capable of running 30% to 50% more efficiently throughout the year.

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