13 ways to painlessly improve profitability in 2013: Scavenger hunt
By Jay Fiske

See related stories: Part 1 | Part 2

Are energy hogs robbing you blind? Thereís only one way to hunt the scavengers down — conduct an audit of your facilities. Many utilities may be willing to do that for you. However, if you prefer to do the hunting yourself, following are a few areas to review, according to the Food Service Technology Center (FSTC) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

INDUSTRY PULSE

Have you conducted an energy audit of your facility?
  • 1. Yes
  • 2. No
Food preparation: Accounts for 35 percent of energy usage.
  1. Start-up/shut-down schedule: Do you have a schedule for kitchen equipment or is it on all the time? This is an easy one — if itís not needed, shut it down.
  2. Range tops: Are they clean and in good repair? Are pilot lights operating correctly?
  3. ovens and steamers: Are doors properly aligned and gaskets in good repair so heat and steam are not escaping?
HVAC: Accounts for 28 percent of energy usage.
  1. Thermostats: Are they programmed to provide comfortable ambient temperatures for guests and employees? The EPA suggests air conditioning settings of 76 degrees F for occupied cooling and 85 degrees F for unoccupied areas. For heating, the recommendation is 68 degrees F and 55 degrees F, respectively. Where feasible, turn thermostats off when your business is closed.
  2. Ventilation: When appliances are off, are the exhaust and make-up systems also off? Are your appliances placed completely under exhaust hoods? Are your exhaust hood grease filters clean and in good repair? If not, the cost could be far more than energy — it is a fire hazard.
  3. Outside: Are patio space heaters and misters turned off when the area is unoccupied? Are rooftop exhaust fans clean? Are any belts loose or broken?
Sanitation: Accounts for 18 percent of energy usage.
  1. Sinks: Are faucets in good order or are there leaks? Washers cost less than a dollar, but just one faucet that drips once per second can waste more than 3,000 gallons of water a year. Better yet, install a low-flow aerator and reduce water use by 80 percent. Youíll also save on the energy used to heat all of that water.
  2. Dish washing: Is your dish room equipped with low-flow, prerinse spray valves? If not, the cost is about $50 and if itís used about three hours a day, you can expect savings of about $1,000 a year in water, sewer and energy costs.
  3. Public restrooms: After dish washing, this is the most significant use of water. A running toilet can waste as much as 200 gallons per day — 6,000 gallons in a month.
Lighting: Accounts for 13 percent of energy usage.
  1. Back of the house: Are you using compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) wherever possible? They last 10 times longer than incandescent and reduce energy use by 75 percent.
  2. Front of the house: Are you using dimmable LED lighting that provides the utmost in both light quality and energy efficiency? Youíll pay for the change in about a year, but the LED lamps will save more energy even than CFLs and last approximately 50,000 hours — five times longer than even a CFL.
  3. Storage rooms: Are you using motion-sensor lighting that goes on when people enter and turns off when they leave?
Refrigeration: Accounts for 6 percent of energy usage.
  1. Reach-in coolers: Are the doors properly aligned? Are gaskets in good shape and solidly connected to the doors? Are the doors closed when not in use? If not, youíre letting cold air escape. As the cooler works harder to maintain it set temperature youíre headed for a breakdown.
  2. Walk-in cooler doors: The above measures are also applicable to walk-ins. Specific to walk-ins, do they have strip curtains and automatic door closers?
  3. Condenser and evaporator coils: Are they dirty, trashy or frozen? Youíll be surprised at what you find back there and cleaning them will save money and increase the life of the coolers.
These are just a few areas to get you started. For more detailed information and a checklist to help you conduct your own energy audit, visit the Food Service Technology Center. For many of these areas, itís all about cleaning and maintenance. Youíd never run your car without an oil change and tune-up and still expect it to run at peak efficiency; the same is true in your foodservice operation.

And, like your car, it requires constant vigilance. The toilet thatís working fine today may be running constantly tomorrow. Refrigeration equipment that was top-of-the-line five years ago may develop problems and start using huge amounts of electricity, and youíll never know it until the power bill arrives. Fortunately, there are options for managing this critical part of your operation.

Jay Fiske is vice president of business development for Powerhouse Dynamics, developers of the eMonitor energy, asset and water management platform for homes and small commercial facilities. Fiske is responsible for leading the companyís overall sales and marketing strategy, developing and growing market channels, and establishing strategic partnerships.