Tips for running an energy efficient restaurant. AI generated photo of two chefs cooking in a restaurant kitchen.

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Running a successful restaurant requires more than just great food and friendly customer service. Energy efficiency is also essential for success. Did you know restaurants consume three times more energy per square foot than any other commercial enterprise, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration? Specialized equipment, long hours of operation, and high customer demand, cause excessive energy usage and even wasteful practices.

From simple energy-saving tips to larger management changes, we’ve researched and sourced the best low-cost and free strategies to help you minimize your electricity bill while still providing a high-quality dining experience for customers. Solo or franchise managers can take advantage of these cost-cutting tips too!

Don’t let rising utility costs put a dent in your bottom line – read on to find out how you can save money and thrive as an energy-efficient restaurant.

Step 1: Understand the energy use landscape of the restaurant industry

If you own a restaurant, you’ve probably already realized how much it costs in electricity to keep your doors open. Knowing how to operate an energy-efficient establishment can dramatically help you maximize your profits and decrease costly utility bills. As U.S. restaurants spend an average of 3 to 5% of their total operating costs on energy, and the average restaurant survives on less than a 10% profit margin, this information can mean the difference between a profitable or bankrupt restaurant.

First, you must recognize these significant restaurant energy drains:

  • Food Preparation – Cooking consumes approximately 35% of the energy a restaurant uses.
  • HVAC – Commercial heating and cooling uses up approximately 28% of energy costs.
  • Sanitation – Sanitation equipment and water usage are responsible for 18% of energy costs.
  • Lighting – Keeping the lights on uses 13% of a restaurant’s energy consumption.
  • Refrigeration – Refrigeration energy costs are approximately 6%.
How to Lower My Restaurant Electricity Bill

Step 2: Perform an Energy audit

Before making any lasting changes, you need to benchmark your restaurant’s energy use. Who knows what power and money pits may be hiding inside your restaurant? An energy audit unveils the hidden secrets of your energy consumption patterns, revealing opportunities for improvement and savings. By assessing every nook and cranny of your restaurant, you’ll uncover practical solutions to reduce energy usage, increase comfort, and protect the environment.

Do an online search to find local energy companies who can visit your restaurant and conduct a free audit!

Here’s what is typically included in a comprehensive energy audit:

  • Assess your current energy usage and costs.
  • Analyze potential problem areas within your restaurant.
  • Identify any discrepancies between the actual and expected energy usage.
  • Create an action plan to address any issues identified during the audit.
  • Make a game plan for changes.

Energy Tip 1: Invest in energy-efficient equipment and appliances for your restaurant

Imagine a world where your restaurant appliances make your team’s life more convenient and help protect the environment and save you money over time. Investing in energy-efficient equipment and appliances brings you closer to that green future!

By embracing cutting-edge technology and prioritizing energy conservation, energy-efficient appliances significantly reduce your business’s energy consumption, ultimately lowering your utility bills. And that’s not all – these eco-friendly gadgets also contribute to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, helping to combat the pressing issue of climate change. On top of the financial and environmental perks, your staff will also benefit from optimum equipment performance and efficiency. Nobody likes a broken dishwasher during the lunch hour rush, right?

Energy Tip 2: Give appliances and equipment a tune-up

Only some appliances need to be replaced immediately, but you will only know by establishing a monthly appliance check. Giving your appliances and equipment a tune-up can save you significant money on energy bills while extending their lifespan.

Here are the average lifespans of commercial kitchen equipment and how to know when it’s time to say goodbye to that beloved oven or fridge.

Regular maintenance, such as cleaning or replacing filters, checking insulation, and reviewing individual appliance energy use, will help slash your energy consumption and costs. Additionally, fixing minor issues before they escalate can help prevent enormous financial and logistical headaches down the line, keeping your restaurant running smoothly. So, get excited about giving our appliances and equipment the TLC they deserve your restaurant’s bottom line and the environment will thank you!

Energy Tip 3: Analyze the energy costs of your menu items

As a savvy restaurateur, you should not only consider the deliciousness of your dishes but also strive for eco-friendliness and cost-effectiveness. Diving into the analysis of the energy costs of your restaurant’s menu items can be an educational and rewarding venture! Customers, especially the younger generations, consider this when choosing where to spend their cash.

By examining the energy costs behind each ingredient and cooking process, you can curate a more sustainable menu that caters to environmentally conscious customers. To start, look at each item and how much energy is used for cooking or preparing it. Energy Star has identified ovens as being more energy-savvy than rotisseries and griddles saving you even more electricity than broilers. Team up with your chef to evaluate your current cooking strategies and equipment – are there any cooking steps that could be changed to use less energy? Together, you can devise practical methods for reducing your electricity bill payments.

Imagine the buzz you’ll generate by utilizing energy-efficient appliances, locally sourced items, or even incorporating renewable power into your kitchen operations. You’ll be amazed at the potential savings and the positive impact you’ll create by infusing your passion for culinary excellence with a commitment to sustainability. Your patrons and team will undoubtedly appreciate and even advocate for your scrumptious, eco-friendly menu.

Energy Tip 4: Replace your light bulbs with LED bulbs

Get ready to embark on an illuminating journey that will radically transform the dining experience at your restaurant while saving you money! Replacing your outdated incandescent light bulbs with state-of-the-art LED bulbs produces a brighter, more efficient lighting experience and significantly reduces your energy consumption, and lowers your electricity bills.

LED bulbs last an astounding 25 times longer than their outdated counterparts. By switching to LED bulbs, you’ll take a huge leap towards a greener, more cost-effective, and energy-conscious business while basking in the glow of superior light quality. Customers will notice the difference right away. What’s not to love?

Energy Tip 5: Unplug equipment when not in use

In today’s fast-paced world, technology is an ever-present factor in a restaurant, providing countless benefits and making your team more efficient. However, it is crucial to remember the importance of conserving energy by unplugging our gadgets when not in use. Shockingly, about 80% of the $10 billion the commercial food service industry spends each year is consumed by wasteful cooking methods, according to Pacific Gas and Electric.

To implement this effectively with your team, create a beginning and end-of-day checklist you hang up for everyone to see easily. Anybody on shift should help participate. Explain the massive benefits to the business, customers, and environment to get team buy-in. You can even reward teammates for adhering to the new protocol.

Not only will this simple action help to reduce our environmental impact, but it can also lead to substantial savings on your restaurant’s power bills.

Energy Tip 6: Adjust temperature settings on fridges and freezers to the correct levels

Optimizing your fridge and freezer temperatures to enhance food preservation and energy efficiency truly takes your restaurant to the next level!

You can unlock incredible benefits by merely adjusting your appliance’s temperature settings. Navigating your fridge and freezer’s ideal temperature (between 35F and 38F for refrigerators and 0F for freezers) can significantly extend the shelf life of perishable food items, effectively reducing waste and saving you money on food. Also, a well-maintained appliance temperature keeps the flavors intact and ready for patrons to relish in every bite.

Checking appliance temperatures should also be part of your once-a-month restaurant energy audit.

Energy Tip 7: Take advantage of local energy saving programs

Most governments from state to federal, county to municipal offer incentives and rebates for energy-saving business owners in attempts to help protect the environment.

Use the Small Business Association’s list of local and state energy efficiency programs.
Although energy-saving programs may not directly lower the electricity bill of restaurants, they can prove to be incredibly effective and potentially profitable. For instance, various rewards or rebates are available upon reaching certain efficiency milestones. Meanwhile, financial aid is provided for those who strive to become more energy efficient.

Energy Tip 8: Train staff to adhere to energy-efficient protocols

For long-term energy-efficiency success, it’s essential to train staff in adopting sustainable practices. Begin by outlining your company’s energy-saving goals and showcasing how every team member’s contributions matter in pursuing ecological responsibility.

Incorporate interactive training sessions that allow for open discussions, scenario-based learning, and practical examples of how to save energy. This way, you help raise awareness about the importance of energy conservation while providing staff with the know-how for its implementation. It also shows each team member how their actions do matter. Lastly, you can add prizes or gifts to make following the rules more fun and a team-building activity. Demonstrating the real-world impact and fostering a sense of empowerment will create an atmosphere ripe for positive change, ensuring ongoing success in incorporating energy-efficient protocols into your organization’s operations.

Energy Tip 9: Promote your energy savings to your customers online and in-person

It’s proven that millennials and Generation Z will choose one business over another based solely on sustainability. Also, these future generations will even spend more at an environmentally conscious business. So, you’re attracting some of the highest-paying and most engaged customers possible when you promote these green energy-saving changes.

Educate your customers about your restaurant’s positive changes online and in person. During face-to-face interactions, enthusiastically share personal success stories and the latest innovations to spark their curiosity and inspire them to join the energy-saving movement. Tell them how adopting energy-efficient practices can significantly reduce utility bills and contribute to a greener environment. By leveraging social media, your staff, and your website, you’ll create a buzz around energy-saving solutions that’ll entice them to learn more and make sustainable lifestyle changes.


From conducting an energy audit to replacing light bulbs with LED bulbs, there are a plethora of possibilities for reducing your restaurant’s impact on the environment and, subsequently, lowering electricity bills. What’s more exciting? Implementing these strategies doesn’t have to be expensive; even minor adjustments can produce amazing results! Franchisees have additional opportunities to explore as they often benefit from buying bulk items at a discounted rate and partnering with local energy-saving programs. Demonstrating your commitment to sustainability through tangible cost-saving initiatives will bring great returns for your bottom line and greater customer engagement and appreciation.

To explore your best energy options as a restaurant owner, please visit our page here to connect with one of our Energy Advisers.