Busy restaurants tend to use a lot of energy. As well as the gas and electricity needed for preparing food, these businesses can consume a lot of power in the form of heating, air conditioning and lighting to ensure they provide a welcoming, pleasant ambience for diners. This is why it’s essential for restaurants to make sure they are on the best energy deals.
But how much electricity and gas does an average restaurant actually use, and what are the best ways to cut energy consumption and lower bills?
How much energy does a restaurant use?
The amount of energy used by restaurants can differ hugely between businesses. Clearly, a small café is likely to use considerably less gas and electricity than a large restaurant. In general terms though, the energy used by catering businesses typically accounts for around four to six per cent of their operating costs. This is according to the Carbon Trust, which also highlights that Britain’s catering industry is estimated to use around 20,600 million kWh of energy per year.
The organisation also notes that there is often a considerable amount of energy wastage in restaurants. In some kitchens, only around 40 per cent of the energy consumed is used to store and prepare food, with much of the rest of the energy used being dispersed into the cooking area as heat.
The average energy usage per meal varies a lot between different types of catering businesses. Figures provided by the Carbon Trust suggest that while the average energy cost per cooked meal in a snack bar is 5p, this figure rises to 22p in a steakhouse and almost 45p in a hotel restaurant.
How much electricity does a restaurant use?
How much electricity an individual restaurant uses will obviously depend on its size, the equipment used, any energy efficiency measures that are in place and so on. It’s worth noting though that on average, a small business uses between 15,000 and 25,000 kWh of electricity per year, while a medium business uses between 30,000 kWh and 50,000 kWh. This includes companies of different types, and certain restaurants may use significantly more or less than this.
A study of 14 UK pub restaurants published in the International Journal of Low-Carbon Technologies revealed that in these environments, the average daily electricity consumption of refrigeration was 70 kWh, while grills used 37 kWh and combination ovens used 35 kWh. Given these figures, it’s easy to see how energy consumption and costs can quickly mount up for catering businesses.
How much gas does a restaurant use?
While many businesses use gas for central heating and water heating, restaurants have the added expense of using gas for cooking. In fact, this is the primary use of gas in many restaurants.
In general across industries, small businesses use an average of 15,000 to 30,000 kWh of gas a year, while medium businesses use an average of 30,000 to 65,000 kWh. However, gas usage in restaurants is likely to be significantly higher than this in many cases.
How to estimate utility costs for a business
Being able to estimate your business’s utility costs accurately is an essential part of financial planning. Based on the energy usage figures detailed above, small businesses typically pay around £2,367 – £3,660 per year on electricity, while medium-sized businesses shell out £3,774 – £7,234 on average. When it comes to gas, small businesses typically pay £820 – £1,458 a year, while medium businesses have bills of £1,458 – £2,239 on average.
When you’re looking at your energy bills, the two key things to pay attention to are the unit cost you are charged by your provider (which is the cost per kWh of energy you use) and the standing charge, which is a daily amount that covers the cost of transporting energy to your business premises and maintaining the national grid. To estimate your utility costs, you’ll need to know what these charges are, and roughly how much energy your restaurant uses. Often, it’s not until companies have had their first bill that they know much energy they consume and therefore how much their bills are likely to be in the future.
How to save money on energy
According to the Carbon Trust, even moderate improvements to efficiency in restaurants can bring energy savings of around 20 per cent. Here are just some of the ways that you can bring your bills down:
- Use the appropriate equipment for the job – for example, make sure you use pans of a suitable size for the heating ring, and use lids and covers to retain steam and heat.
- Only switch equipment on as needed, and turn grills, hobs and fryers off immediately after use.
- Keep hot storage of food to a minimum.
- Keep your cooking equipment well-maintained so it operates efficiently.
- Use smart technology – for example, smart thermostats will help you to keep better control of your heating, while automatic pan sensors will switch off hobs after pan removal.
- Consider replacing gas or standard electric hobs with induction models – these appliances ensure nearly all heat is transferred into the food, making them highly efficient.
- Compare the energy consumption and power ratings of appliances before purchasing.
- Place your refrigerator in the coolest part of your kitchen.
- Keep freezer and chiller door openings to a minimum.
- Switch to more energy efficient lighting – this could include LEDs and fluorescent tubes.
Making your restaurant more energy efficient could not only bring your bills down and cut your carbon footprint – it could also help to make your business run more smoothly and mean that your kitchen is a cooler, more pleasant environment for workers.