8 simple ingredients for an energy efficient kitchen

A restaurant kitchen

In restaurants, hotels and other commercial facilities, the energy costs for cooking and washing dishes can really add up. As with any resource, wasted energy is wasted money. These simple, low-cost measures can reduce your operating costs by making your kitchen more energy efficient.

  1. Prepare and cook food efficiently. Defrost frozen items in a commercial refrigerator overnight instead of running them under warm water, saving energy and water. Determine which items can be cooked at lower temperatures or for shorter periods.
  2. Cover pots and pans while cooking. Covering pots and pans helps retain heat, reducing cooking time and energy use.
  3. Reduce cooking equipment temperature during slow periods. It's a common misconception that bringing equipment back to cooking temperature after setback is costly or time consuming. Many types of kitchen equipment preheat rapidly, eliminating the need to maintain full temperature.
  4. Check oven and steam seals. To keep heat (and energy) from escaping, make sure the fittings around doors are in good shape and make a proper seal.
  5. Consider induction cooking. In induction cooking, magnetic energy is transferred from the stove to the cooking vessel to directly heat the food. Minimize heat waste and energy costs while increasing safety, food quality, and customer satisfaction with this method. 
  6. Calibrate equipment. Over time, thermostats and controls may fail or fall out of calibration, reducing equipment efficiency and performance. Check thermostats on refrigeration equipment, dishwashers and water heaters regularly, adjusting them to the correct operating temperature.
  7. Operate dishwashers at full load. Many kitchen operations waste energy by running dishwashers at partial loads during slow periods in order to prepare for busier times of the day. It's cheaper to cold-rinse and stack dishes until a full load is ready.
  8. Close and seal refrigerator doors. Refrigeration units are big energy users. Save by making sure doors latch tightly and gaskets are sealed correctly. Reduce trips in and out with carts or dollies for loading and unloading. Install door curtains to minimize the entry of warm air.

You're off to a great start, but don't stop there. If your business has kitchen equipment that is older or in need of repair, replace it with ENERGY STAR Commercial Food Service Equipment. ENERGY STAR® qualified units use significantly less energy than standard models.