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3 tips to choose the right energy-efficient equipment for you

August 1, 2014

By National Restaurant Association staff

Save money in the long run by investing in energy-efficient appliances and equipment. While they might cost more at the start, they can help you achieve your sustainability goals, says Richard Young, education director, Food Service Technology Center.

“Efficiency is saving you money,” he said. “It impacts sustainability. Sustainability is money. The market wants it, and it's the right thing to do … It's good business.”

Here are some tips for choosing energy-efficient equipment:

Do the math. How much will a $700 standard fryer cost you in electricity? A $1,400 energy-efficient fryer could save $600 a year in utility costs, Young says. That means you break even in just over a year.

Bonus: The more expensive fryer operates better, which extends the life of the oil, providing additional savings.  Add in rebates from your utility company for the more efficient fryer, and the appliance quickly pays for itself, Young says. That makes your investment “worth every penny in the long run.”

Go high-tech. At this year’s NRA Show, Young and restaurant designer Tarah Schroeder explained how to create a modern, sustainable kitchen. Their advice: Adopt induction cooking, efficient fryers and griddles, and variable-speed hoods that adjust to the level of heat on the stoves and ovens underneath them.

“Foodservice is very energy-intensive,” Young says. “Purchasing and using sustainable equipment is the best thing you can do to create a sustainable kitchen.”

Set clear goals and reevaluate to stay on track. As a principal with Denver-based Ricca Newmark Design, Schroeder helped design a café for the Environmental Science and Forestry School at the State University of New York in Syracuse. The school’s goal was to reduce waste, and energy efficiency was critical to that goal, she says.

With Schroeder’s help, the school selected Energy Star-rated equipment, variable-speed hoods, and parallel refrigeration, which uses a single compression to power different refrigerators. Yet  the kitchen’s energy output remained high despite the new equipment. Ultimately, Schroeder recommended replacing a char broiler with a griddle after meeting with the chef to discuss his menu plans.

The ROI: The school reduced the energy use for the cook line and the exhaust hood. “Eliminating a char broiler is not always going to be the best strategy for every project, but here it was the right thing to do.”

Learn how to save money and resources with the expert advice, tips and tools in our new Spotlight on Sustainability report.

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