Britain’s restaurant sector consumes more than £1.3 billion in energy each year – and is responsible for higher carbon emissions than the state of Costa Rica – but three quarters of restaurateurs admit they don’t know how to implement energy saving measures, new research from E.ON reveals.
Lack of tools and knowledge
The survey of 150 restaurant owners, managers and chefs shows energy worries come second only to staff issues. Yet despite more than 80% of restaurateurs saying they consider sustainability when making business decisions, 75% say they do not have the tools and knowledge to make changes.
Energy costs make up almost a quarter (22.5%) of overheads for the restaurant and catering industry, with an estimated 10% of overheads lost on wastage.
Working kitchens admit to leaving on gas hobs, grills, deep fryers, heat lamps and ovens throughout service so high quality food can be turned out quickly – making it one of the most energy intensive consumer industries in the UK. The Carbon Trust estimates that the hospitality sector in the UK spends more than £1.3 billion on energy each year, generating the equivalent of about 8 million tonnes of carbon – greater than the entire carbon emissions of Costa Rica or Kosovo.
Reducing energy use by an average of 25% across the sector could save up to £325m for the restaurant and catering industry.
Glynn Purnell and E.ON campaign to help – and improve profit margins
Michelin-starred chef Glynn Purnell and E.ON are launching a campaign to help small businesses save energy and save money by highlighting E.ON’s Energy Toolkit which has been created to help its small business customers manage their energy use and plan greater efficiencies.
Restaurants in particular are in need of help with energy efficiency and cost reduction. Cash is considered a driving force for nearly 80% of restaurateurs when it comes to cutting energy bills, but 40% are motivated by ethical reasons too.
With the survey showing the average restaurant generates a profit margin of 8% and estimated energy savings of nearly 25% achievable in most restaurants, the business case is clear: energy savings could improve profit margins by approximately 4.6%, giving the average restaurant a margin of around 12.6%.
The research also reveals that restaurant owners, managers and chefs massively underestimated how much their customers care about choosing restaurants with sustainable practices such as energy efficiency – estimating that only 25% of customers care when in fact four out of ten diners consider sustainability when choosing a restaurant.
“You wouldn’t throw food or money away so why would you throw away energy? Yet that’s exactly what you’re doing if you leave things on.” said Glynn Purnell, who recently reduced his energy use by nearly a quarter at his Michelin-starred restaurant, Purnell’s, in Birmingham.
“Running a restaurant is quite tight when it comes to making a profit so energy efficiency is obviously really important. We changed all of our lights to LED which made a massive difference. When I had gas stoves, they were on all day and the fans too. We scrapped gas and went all electric so we’ve got induction hobs and the thermo range which contains the heat within it. The kitchen is much cooler as a result so we don’t need as much cooling, increasing our energy savings even further and making it a better environment to work in.
“All of this was achieved without compromising the cooking techniques and quality of the food. I would never compromise the quality of food for the cost of energy or any other ingredients but everyone wins when you can find a way to let them work together.”
Glynn Purnell’s Top 10 Energy Saving Tips
1. When investing in new equipment, don’t just think of the upfront cost, think in terms of the lifespan of a use including factors such as preheat energy consumption, idle energy rate usage, production capacity, operating hours and maintenance and disposal costs.
“I have to admit when setting up the restaurant we had a million things to think about and energy efficiency wasn’t one of them. When you look back you realise how much money you could have saved if you had put in these measures at the start. I opened my first restaurant 12 or 13 years ago but if I were to open another I’d make sure energy efficiency was one of the top priorities.”
2. Retrofit old equipment with high efficiency parts and accessories. Consider installing control technology, which automatically switches off or turns down unused cooking equipment. Automatic pan sensors are available for gas and electric hobs, which turn the hob off or down. Install a door closer on refrigerators, hang strip curtains on coolers to maintain moisture levels or use programmable thermostats to automatically adjust ventilation and air conditioning.
3. Consult an energy consultant or a commercial kitchen designer and installation team.
4. Locating refrigerators and freezers away from the hot kitchen will work far more efficiently and use less energy, and it will reduce unwanted heat gain in the kitchen. Install door closers or alarms to prevent employees from accidentally leaving fridge/freezer doors open.
“At Purnell’s, we also use a refrigerator that was made for tropical climates and so is adapted to allow as little temperature change as possible.”
5. Use energy efficient lightbulbs or LEDs.
“We changed all our lights in Purnell’s from gallery lighting to LEDs which made a massive difference to our bills and even improved the ambience of the restaurant (contrary to popular belief!).”
6. Don’t keep frozen foods at temperatures colder than needed – increase the temperature of frozen food and product stores from -25°C to -20°C and save 10% of the refrigeration energy.
7. An induction hob is up to 50% more efficient than a traditional electric hob and can power up quickly, reducing the need for them to be on all the time. They generate less heat which means less cooling in the cooking areas is needed. Consider switching from gas permanently and make the change to induction when you do. They are also easier to clean, which can save extra money and time!
8. A combi oven, which offers convection, steam and combination cooking, can reduce energy costs by around 50%because they offer faster cooking times.
9. Pass-through dishwashers are the energy-hogging workhorses of many professional kitchens but the new generation has lots of energy-saving features. Choose a dishwasher model with a heat recovery condenser device to re-use waste hot water to heat the incoming supply of water.
10. New grill designs can detect something placed underneath them and heat up in seconds. Good designs will respond in less than ten seconds, offering energy savings of 75%.
E.ON customers can access energy efficiency advice via their online account, including the Energy Toolkit, a new online tool to help them track energy use and show where they could save energy as well as significant discounts on energy efficient products.