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Counting the costs of energy

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 do not know how to implement energy-saving measures, new research from E.ON reveals

E.ON’s recent survey of restaurant owners, managers and chefs reveals that 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 that food can be turned out quickly – making foodservice one of the most energy-intensive consumer industries in the UK.

Michelin-starred chef Glynn PurnellThe 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.

Michelin-starred chef Glynn Purnell and E.ON have launched a campaign together to help small businesses save energy and money. Click here for further information on how you could lower your energy-related outgoings.

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 use including factors such as preheat energy consumption, idle energy rate usage, production capacity, operating hours and maintenance and disposal costs.
  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 enable them to work far more efficiently and use less energy; it will also reduce unwanted heat gain in the kitchen. Install door closers or alarms to prevent employees from accidentally leaving fridge/freezer doors open.
  5. Energy efficient lightbulbs can help you save moneyUse energy-efficient lightbulbs or LEDs. We changed all our lights in Purnell’s from gallery lighting to LEDs; this 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. Induction hobs are up to 50% more efficient than traditional electric hobs 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 and make the change to induction when you do. Induction hobs are also easier to clean, which can save extra money and time.
  8. Combi ovens, which offer convection, steam and combination cooking, can reduce energy costs by around 50% because they offer faster cooking times.
  9. New models of pass-through Dishwashers can save moneyPass-through dishwashers are the energy-hogging workhorses of many professional kitchens but the new generation has plenty of energy-saving features. Choose a dishwasher model with a heat recovery condenser device to reuse 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%.

Glynn Purnell owns and runs Purnell’s in Birmingham. Winning dozens of awards for his inspired and adventurous cooking, Glynn has remained firmly rooted in his home city and won Birmingham’s first Michelin star in January 2005 as Head Chef at Jessica’s. He now owns three establishments in the city: Purnell’s restaurant, opened in 2007 and awarded a Michelin star in 2009; Ginger’s Bar and Purnell’s Bistro.

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