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Restaurant cleans up with rebates for dishwashers

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Efficient appliances add up to about $1,500 a year in energy savings

When the owners of the Basilico Ristorante + Lounge in Langford on Vancouver Island launched their restaurant two years ago, they started with a major renovation: a switch from a Chinese-themed building to one with a west coast feel.

That included some new equipment, but it also meant making do with some pieces they acquired from the previous restaurant.

"We needed a new dishwasher, but we really didn't want to spend $7,500," says owner Frank Whitton. "Our dishwasher was still working, but we were utilizing more man hours because it wasn't working well. The end result had to be a spotless dish, so we spent more time cleaning the dishes before they went into the dishwasher."

Luckily, Whitton was in for a pleasant surprise. In conversation with the kitchen chemical supplier, he learned of BC Hydro's Product Incentive Program (PIP), which provides rebates to help cover the cost of energy-efficient upgrades. Included in the program are efficient commercial dishwashers — good news for Basilico.

"We're small, independent, and self-financed, so it would have been a real strain to do it otherwise," says Whitton. "We would have made it happen somehow, but we definitely wouldn't have gone for two [new washers at the same time].

"The rebate allowed us to make the decision to go ahead."

Basilico replaced its two aging high temperature washers with two ENERGY STAR® high efficiency dishwashers, a high temperature washer for glasses, and a low temperature one for dishes.

The upgrade saves the restaurant 26,000 kWh of electricity per year, enough to power the equivalent of  two average B.C. homes. That's a cut of about $1,500 per year from its energy bills — and a payback time of only two years, thanks to a BC Hydro rebate of $7,900.

"That's a pretty quick return for us, and the savings on electricity make it a little less painful every month," says Whitton. "There's two benefits in one — there's the straight cost savings and the other is the ecological benefit. I like that."

Energy efficiency aligns with Basilico's values

Basilico Ristorante grows many of its own herbs on its property, plus seasonal fruit and some vegetables. Whitton says they take care to buy locally as much as possible, cook in season, and use sustainable products. Energy efficiency just made sense.

"I would absolutely recommend this to anybody who's struggling with their dishwasher or their glasswasher, or struggling with their finances for that matter," says Whitton. "I think every restaurant should look at [PIP] and see if it makes sense for them, because I don't know that anybody's ever 100 percent satisfied with any piece of equipment they have.

"If you can get this kind of upgrade, save $1,500 a year, and get a two-year return on investment when the standard life for a dishwasher is more like eight to 10, you're pretty much riding free after that."

The Product Incentive Program offers rebates for selected energy-efficient steamers, convection ovens, hot food holding cabinet, exhaust hoods, ice-making machines, refrigerators and dishwashers, as well as lighting and other equipment. (Download a list of commercial kitchen and refrigeration rebates [PDF, 152 KB].)