Equipment focus: Room for improvement

Related tags Efficient energy use Refrigerator

Earlier this year, The Publican ran a competition in association with refrigeration specialist Gram. The prize for the winning pub was a professional...

Earlier this year, The Publican ran a competition in association with refrigeration specialist Gram. The prize for the winning pub was a professional energy audit, looking at ways to save money.

Leading the audit at the winning pub, the Horse & Groom at Bourton on the Hill, Gloucestershire, were Kevin Tyson of foodservice consultants Hepburn Associates, and Glenn Roberts of Gram. While the pub is aware of green issues, the audit team's findings will be echoed at many pubs.


An estimated 30 per cent of kitchen utilities are wasted in the operation of a commercial kitchen, and training is often the biggest factor, says Tyson.

Licensee Will Greenstock, who owns the pub with his brother, believes staff are generally very good at switching off appliances and lights when not in service. "Incentives could also be introduced to get staff to further limit usage by charting the amount of energy and water usage each month," suggested Tyson.

Energy efficient appliances

The pub has a typical six-burner range. Tyson suggested induction cooking should be given serious consideration. Cooking magnetically, the heat is generated in the cookware itself, as opposed to being generated on the appliance top and then passed through the cookware to the food. This is more efficient as the heat is in direct contact with the food and is more easily controllable.

The low heat gain created by induction appliances also reduces the ventilation requirement to maintain a comfortable working temperature, and this has positive implications for energy efficiency.

The Horse & Groom has recently updated its dishwasher, so would not expect to be looking to replace it in the near future.

The use of domestic refrigeration appliances in a commercial kitchen is a false economy - the Horse and Groom only carried one domestic refrigerator in the kitchen, but many pubs utilise significantly more. "Busy commercial kitchens place a huge amount of stress on equipment. If the appliance is only designed for domestic use, it will not run efficiently and will fail prematurely," says Roberts.

There is significant variation between old frying appliances and current efficient models, while a combination-steam/convection oven can reduce energy costs by around 50 per cent when compared to equivalent cooking appliances such as convection ovens.

Introduce water saving measures in the kitchen

Saving saving water- especially hot water- makes great economic sense. By conserving hot water you trim not one but two bills: one for the water and another for the gas/electricity used to heat it.

Fix the dripping taps: "The hand wash and prep sink were both dripping during our visit. A couple of leaky taps losing only 1/20 of a litre (50ml) per minute equates to more than 500 litres per week," says Tyson. "If that is on the hot tap you are heating water to send it right down the drain."
Automatic energy-saving control devices in the kitchen

Although the Horse & Groom already has a good shut-down schedule in place, the audit team suggested occupancy sensors for storerooms, WCs, cellar and coldroom to save energy by automatically shutting off the lights when no activity is detected.

Kitchen ventilation does not need to operate at full speed all of the time and variable speed devices can help to reduce costs by enabling the output speed of the fans to match requirements at different service times.

Consider obtaining an interest-free loan from the Carbon Trust.

Energy efficiency loans from the Carbon Trust are an effective way to replace or upgrade existing equipment with more energy efficient equipment. Businesses can borrow from £5k to £100k on an unsecured, interest-free loan payable over up to 4 years.

Enhanced Capital Allowances (ECAs) also enable businesses to buy energy efficient equipment using a 100 per cent rate of tax allowance in the year of purchase for refrigeration equipment listed on the Energy Technology List.

Introduce a planned Maintenance Contract with a reputable company: A partially blocked condenser on a refrigerator will increase energy consumption by more than 23 per cent; a 15 per cent refrigerant leak will double energy usage. Refrigeration is running 24 hours a day, seven days a week at the pub and no refrigerators in the kitchen had clean condensers.

Regular maintenance will increase the lifespan of the equipment. Everyday wear and tear can drive up energy bills so that a broken oven door gasket, a clogged burner on an open top range, or a loose oven door hinge can result in significant increases in the appliance's energy usage.

Refrigeration advice

Correct temperature settings - Ensure you are running your cabinet at the necessary temperature, and always refer to food manufacturers guidelines:

  • Chilled food should be kept at 5ºC or below
  • Chilled dairy items to be stored between +2ºC /+5ºC
  • Fresh meat products at -2ºC /+2ºC
  • Fresh fish at -1ºC /+1ºC
  • Frozen produce should be kept at or below -18ºC

Store products correctly

To ensure even temperature distribution and optimum efficiency, airflow within the cabinet should not be restricted by over filling or incorrect storage of large boxed items. Internal fans should be kept clear, so avoid loading the unit over any internal load lines limits. Ensure shelves are not overfilled, and that there is a shelf located in the lowest possible position. This allows cool air to circulate efficiently around the cabinet. Never store products directly on the floor of the cabinet.

Location of Equipment

The incorrect positioning of cabinets can drastically affect energy efficiency. Refrigeration cabinets should be located in a dry and adequately ventilated room, 75mm away from the wall, with good air circulation around the cabinet.

Cabinets must not be placed in direct sunlight or against heat emitting surfaces such as ovens and cooking hobs or near areas of high moisture emission such as dishwashers.

Door Opening
The amount of times a refrigerator door is opened each day will have a direct impact on the amount of energy consumed, as the unit will work harder to bring its core temperature back to the set temperature point. Refrigerators in most busy kitchens will be opened on average around 120 times each day, some even more so. If users are more conscious of this then energy bills could be greatly reduced.

The length of time that a door is open will also effect the amount of energy it uses, therefore by anticipating the day's requirements and storing products accordingly can help to reduce the length of time doors are left open. For example, position frequently used foods towards the front of a unit and less regularly used products at the back.

For more information on refrigeration best practice, visit, and download a 'Keep your Cool' brochure - A free resource from Gram packed full of energy saving hints and tips.

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