Hospitality efficiencies that can help protect the environment

ENERGY usage is a major issue for businesses looking to be more sustainable – but with running costs soaring, energy efficiency isn’t just about saving the planet.

As bills skyrocket, is investing in efficient equipment now a no-brainer for hospitality businesses? Mark Hogan of Foodservice Equipment Marketing certainly thinks so.

He said that ‘buying energy-saving equipment is no longer an optional extra, it’s a must to soften the blow of energy price hikes’. 

Efficiency has become a major focus for commercial equipment manufacturers in recent years, with units now designed to use less power as well as smaller volumes of water. 

Paul Crowley of commercial dishwasher and glasswasher supplier Winterhalter UK, said: “Manufacturers have developed technologies that reduce the consumption of energy, water and chemicals.

“Reducing water consumption is very important, not only to reduce water costs but also because most energy is used to heat the water supply – so less water intake means less energy consumption. 

“Less water also means lower chemical consumption.” 

There are a number of things licensees can look for when choosing a new piece of equipment to ensure they are getting the most efficient kit available. 

“If you’re using equipment that heats up water, like coffee machines, look for systems with heat exchangers,” said Keith Warren of the Foodservice Equipment Association (FEA).

“These will be able to reduce energy consumption by recycling the heat they produce during operation. 

“This means that less energy is needed throughout the day to keep water at the desired temperature.”

That was reinforced by Joe Stockwell of coffee machine supplier Caffeine, who said there have been ‘a lot of advances in recent years to improve sustainability’. 

“Look for machines with features like heat exchangers that reuse the heat from waste water to lower energy consumption, which can help to reduce energy use.”

Devices designed to heat things up aren’t the only ones to have adopted more environmentally-friendly technologies. 

“One of the key features to look for in greener refrigeration is the refrigerant gas being used,” said Malcolm Harling of Williams Refrigeration. 

“With the move away from F-Gases, more and more refrigeration equipment uses naturally occurring refrigerant gasses, such as hydrocarbon R290. 

“These are highly efficient and have almost no negative impact on the environment. Their thermodynamic properties are so superior that they reduce energy consumption compared to standard refrigerants.”

Buying new equipment isn’t the only way of cutting down on excessive energy usage, however. 

Suppliers stressed that there’s also plenty licensees and chefs can be doing to ensure their current setups are more efficient. 

Warren at the FEA recommended using smart energy meters to monitor energy consumption, which he said provides ‘a concrete indicator of exactly how much energy you’re using throughout the day and indicate ways to reduce it whenever possible’.

And he stressed the importance of ensuring machinery such as warewashers are kept clean. 

“Warewashers – and any piece of equipment that uses water – should be de-scaled at least twice a year, or more depending on water hardness,” he said. 

“Limescale build up means more energy is required to heat the water.”

Meanwhile, Peter Gray of equipment supplier the Hubbard Taylor Group advocated a change in how outlets prepare their food. 

He said: “One way of reducing energy use is by cooking in bulk. 

“Adopting buffet or banquet styles of service, producing a large number of the same menu item will use less energy than cooking ‘a la carte’ menus to order. 

“For example, roasting 30 chicken breasts together can only use slightly more energy than it takes to roast one.”

There was also a general consensus towards regular servicing and maintenance, with Stockwell of Caffeine saying regular visits by technicians will ‘ensure you’re doing everything to optimise efficiency and prolong the equipment’s working life’.