How to boost energy efficiency of commercial kitchen appliances

Image of a commercial kitchen
Particularly if you can't afford to upgrade to more efficient appliances, you can save big by properly maintaining and cleaning the appliances you have.

Regular cleaning and maintenance help appliances last longer, saving you money

It's understood (and somewhat expected) that commercial kitchen equipment wears down over time. However, did you know that routine cleaning and maintenance can add years to the life of commercial kitchen appliances?

We asked Power Smart engineering team lead Greg Morandini for his recommendations on how to get the most out of commercial kitchen appliances. That's particularly important when upgrades to more energy-efficient appliances aren't in the budget.

"The cost of upgrading to more energy-efficient commercial kitchen appliances is substantial," comments Morandini. "Power Smart Express offers valuable incentives that can ease the cost of an appliance upgrade. However, if an upgrade isn't possible, business owners can improve the efficiency of their existing appliances with a few simple Power Smart tips."

Tip #1: Keep your exhaust hood as clean as a whistle (and your other appliances too)

"A lack of cleaning your cooking surfaces and deep fryers causes smoke, fumes and grease to be airborne, which requires turning on your exhaust hood to high speed. If this occurs for extended periods of time, the motor works harder than it needs to, potentially shortening its life," says Morandini.

If you combine long operating hours in such conditions with contaminated exhaust fan blades, Morandini says you can expect the efficiency of an exhaust hood to nose dive.

To ensure cleaning is done regularly, Morandini suggests that business owners create operating procedures for staff, such as mapping out a specific time of day a piece of equipment is cleaned, and the steps required to do the job. It's a great way to establish a routine.

"Having a plan in place reminds staff of the need to be diligent about cleaning routines, not only for the sake of an appliance's energy efficiency, but for fire prevention too," notes Morandini. "Also, having a regularly scheduled maintenance program with a contractor allows cleaning of parts not accessible to staff."

Tip #2: Regularly inspect your oven door seal

"Over time, oven door seals can crack, break or lose shape, releasing warm air from the oven into a kitchen," cautions Morandini. "This is problematic for a few reasons. Chances are the oven will be running a lot longer than it needs to, which consumes more energy and drives up your BC Hydro bill.

"Also, because an improper seal releases excess heat into the kitchen, air conditioning costs can go through the roof."

Morandini emphasizes that if you discover your oven door seal is cracked or broken, don't ignore it. Schedule an appointment with a professional to have it repaired or replaced as soon as possible.

Tip #3: Trim an appliance's operating hours

"The rule of thumb is: only use what you need, when you need it," continues Morandini. "Technologies, such as variable-frequency drives, are drawing attention to the cost of over-ventilating a commercial kitchen.

"Rather than operating an exhaust hood at full speed, 10 to 12 hours a day, use a variable-frequency drive. A variable-frequency drive instinctively adjusts fan speed, delivering air to the cooking surface only when it's needed, saving you money by the minute."

Morandini also recommends using a power bar in your office space so that you can switch off the entire strip when devices aren't needed (like at 2 a.m. when your business is closed). Another option is to invest in devices with sleep mode capability. While in sleep mode a device consumes less power, but it can still power up quickly when needed.

Need help identifying energy-saving opportunities? Book an appointment

Restaurants, caf├ęs and bakeries, as well as hotels with commercial kitchens, are excellent candidates for electricity savings because of their energy-intensive operations. If you'd like to evaluate your commercial kitchen's energy use, book a free appointment with a BC Hydro Business Energy Advisor.

Six advisors are positioned in four regions around the province: the Lower Mainland, Vancouver Island, the Okanagan and Kootenay regions, and northern B.C. The advisors specialize in the unique needs of small and medium businesses and offer customers energy assessments for their electricity and natural gas usage. Their services are provided in person, and are completely free.