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Energy is one of the largest outgoing costs for a restaurant in the UK. From a high volume of appliances used in the food preparation process, to providing heating and lighting, right through to processing sales and delivery systems, it can seem like a never-ending list.

Each year in the UK, the catering industry as a whole spends £400 million on energy and uses around 20,000 million kWh. How much energy is consumed can depend on the restaurant size, traffic, and types of appliances used. Nevertheless, it is vital to understand owning and operating even a single restaurant incurs a much larger energy spend.

As has been indicated it can be difficult to get averages for energy consumption due to the number of variables when it comes to different sites however, it has been estimated that the average annual electricity usage of a large business is 50,000 kWh. Assuming that the average price per kWh is 14.3p, it will need to pay £7,234 for the annual electricity bill.

With energy costs continuing to rise, we can expect this figure to increase in accordance.

At Mindsett we don’t like to dwell in doom and gloom, we are innovators, problem solvers, and strategic thinkers. So, what can be done to take restaurants from being one of the largest private-sector energy consumers in the UK to being Net Zero?

Understand Your Service Windows

Every restaurant’s traffic will differ depending on several variables. The day of the week, time of day, even the time of year. One good way to be on the right track to managing consumption is to break it down to a service window level. Service windows are unique to a restaurant’s routine and one of the key benefits of using service windows to identify consumption levels is that they are mostly repeatable. Bar a couple of outlying days most restaurants will follow a similar pattern at the same times each day.

Once these windows are identified restaurant managers can then start to implement energy-saving policies, that remain in line with food safety practices and keep customer comfort in mind.

Control Assets that Exhibit the Biggest Energy Draws

Restaurant managers often find themselves in the difficult position of balancing having equipment ready to use and ensuring that they do not inflate their energy bills. If managers could break down to the asset level which pieces of equipment draw the most energy, they could control how they are used. Simple measures like utilising standby modes, fully shutting down when out of hours, and not turning equipment on until necessary can save hundreds of pounds per year.

It’s not just the food preparation appliances that drive up energy costs, other high-consuming assets include HVAC and lighting. These two are trickier in a restaurant setting as they directly relate to customer comfort so should be handled as such. This isn’t to say there aren’t ways to reduce the amount of energy they consume.

Aligning lighting usage to high traffic times for restaurants can be key when looking to reduce consumption. In lower traffic areas such as bathrooms and staff areas, the investment in sensor lighting can also have a significant effect. These changes limit the impact on customers and help reduce the pressure on HVAC systems to cool the space. HVAC systems should

also be aligned to high traffic times to ensure the space remains well ventilated when needed but isn’t overused when the restaurant is well below capacity.

Invest in Technology that Enables Continuous Improvement

We say it so often that it has almost become a motto: “What gets measured gets managed”. If restaurants do not have an accurate, detailed way of understanding what t

hey are consuming and where they will struggle to compile a plan to tackle it.

Actionable insights and data on energy consumption can go a long way in helping restaurant managers to visualise their progress and track it in a way that is meaningful to them. IoT energy reporting systems are a key investment area to better implement a company wide behavioural shift in energy habits. Understanding consumption to an asset level will allow managers to focus on pain points and reduce unnecessary usage seamlessly.

Get Staff Members on Board

Taking the time to educate staff members on their energy consumption and how it impacts the business overall is key if any significant impact is to be made. Encouraging positive energy behaviours by introducing KPI’s and reward systems can have a huge effect on employee motivations.

It has also been shown that staff responds best to policy changes concerning sustainability goals when they can see that behaviour change from the top down. If staff feel like those in higher positions in their organisation is not ‘doing their bit’, they will be less likely to uphold new procedures. You can read more on the topic of energy-saving behaviours in front-line workers by downloading our whitepaper, created in conjunction with the University of Essex, here.