As the days start to get shorter and colder, but energy prices get higher, BigHospitality looks at different ways restaurateurs and hoteliers can cut energy consumption and keep outgoings as low as possible during the winter months.
The news that wholesale gas prices are set to rise yet again this winter is bad news for all of us, but for the hospitality industry it will have severe implications.
Unless, like vegan restaurant, SAF, the majority of your food is served raw, the kitchen will inevitably need some kind of fuel to keep the ovens fired up.
And for hotels, where guests expect centrally heated rooms along with their cooked breakfasts the need is even greater, so what are you going to do when your fuel supplier “regrets” to inform you that it will be charging you more this winter? Do you experience a squeeze in profits or go through the headache of raising your prices to recover those costs?
The solution isn’t an easy one and it’s unlikely that anyone in the industry will sail through the winter without noticing the effects of the price rise somewhere, but there are certainly ways you can lessen the impact without resorting to drastic measures, so here are BigHospitality’s top 10 tips to cut energy consumption and save your business money this winter.
1. Think about lighting
It sounds simple and yes, energy saving light bulbs are more expensive than the regular ones, but according to the government-supported group Envirowise, replacing a 100 W incandescent light, used for an average of 10 hours a day, with an equivalent energy efficient compact fluorescent light (18 W) will save you £10 a year for each bulb, including the cost of the light bulb. If you make as much use of natural light within the building as you can, you’ll also lessen the need to use lights at all during daylight hours. At Bordeaux Quay restaurant in Bristol, for example, the roof is mostly glass, meaning the restaurant is always as light inside as it is outside.
2. Check your heating thermometer
According to Calor, heating costs can rise by up to 8 per cent for every 1∞C of overheating, so it is well worth keeping an eye on the thermostat. Research from air conditioning supplier Daikin, found that 35 per cent of pubs, hotels and restaurants were wasting thousands of pounds every year by failing to heat them properly with 40 per cent of staff complaining they were either too hot or too cold. Maintain temperatures between 18∞C and 24∞C, recommended as optimum workplace temperatures, and you’ll keep staff, and your bank manager happy.
3. Turn off appliances when not in use
This applies to lights, computers and ovens. Gas hobs are often turned on at the beginning of service, but may not be used straight away, so only turn them on when you start cooking and off again as soon as you finish. On the subject of ovens, Envirowise advises keeping ovens with glass doors clean so they don’t need to be opened to check on the progress of the food cooking inside, therefore using less energy to re-heat them.
Almost 25 per cent of a building’s heat is lost through the ceiling, so insulating a building’s roof areas can remove the need to turn the thermostat up (see point 2). Insulation will also keep the heat out in summer, according to Envirowise, meaning there is less need for AC units to be used. Insulating cool rooms will also help keep heat out, so check door seals to ensure heat isn`t entering an area that doesn’t need it.
5. Switch to a different form of energy
The Gisland Spa Hotel in Cumbria replaced its old oil heating system with a Calor LPG one and now saves more than £6,350 a year on fuel. The LPG system is also compatible with more renewable forms of energy, such as solar water heating, providing a less-expensive back-up system. Eat Green, the company which runs Acorn House and Water House restaurants in London receives its electricity from Ecotricity which only sources its energy from wind or solar power. For businesses that are willing to spend out more initially, solar panels will save money in the long-run and your local council may well have grants available for businesses wanting to invest in greener energy sources. Bordeaux Quay powers its boiler using energy from solar pads installed on the restaurant’s roof and also has energy-efficient bakery ovens which stay on overnight and generate heat, meaning staff have little need to turn the heating on when they arrive in the morning.
6. Update your appliances
Do your research and find the most efficient ones. Installing a new boiler (pictured right) has shaved £20k off the annual heating bill at the Gisland Spa Hotel and when it opened, the Water House restaurant, installed Hydrocarbon-refrigerated Gastro Pro Counters from Foster Refrigerator which use 30 per cent less energy than regular fridges. Even changing shower heads can make a difference. Enviroflow’s water-saving shower head claims to cut water and energy bills by up to 50 per cent.
7. Invest in some energy saving products for existing appliances
The eCube is a small black box which is fitted into fridges to regulate the temperature inside those that are frequently opened and closed, meaning the appliance needs less energy to cool it down. The Park Plaza Riverbank hotel in London carried out a trial and installed 150 eCubes in its fridges, which it estimates will save the hotel 17k per year.
8. Check your water systems
The removal of calcite that builds up on water pipes and boilers costs British industry more than £8m a year, according to water purification company Pure H2O which has just installed a system at Raymond Blanc’s Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons. For every year deposits are allowed to build up on heating systems, there is a 5 per cent drop in energy efficiency, so investing in a water purification system could make the system more efficient and less costly.
9. Be strict with amounts used
In the kitchen, chefs can save energy by only boiling the amount of water they need for the job (keeping the lid on the pan will save even more and help keep the heat down in the kitchen) and by opting for equipment that isn’t too big for the task in hand. Smaller ovens use less energy to heat than large ones, so if they’re half empty all the time, downsize. At Bordeaux Quay, they even go so far as to recycle what they do have - the daily menus are printed on one side of an A4 size sheet of paper and then taken up to the office for printing on the other side the next day and rain water is collected to flush the toilets.
Tell everyone in the company about ways they can save energy. Everyone needs to be behind the drive to save energy and money, but sometimes they need to be told how to. Keep reminders pinned up on noticeboards and reward staff with incentives if their efforts to save energy save the business money.