Top tips for cutting energy bills in your pub

By Emily Sutherland contact

- Last updated on GMT

Energy makes up around 15-20% of a pub's energy costs
Energy makes up around 15-20% of a pub's energy costs

Related tags: Pubs, Heat, Light-emitting diode

Energy costs are a growing concern for pub operators. According to Punch chief executive Duncan Garrood, one of the questions the pubco is most regularly asked is how tenants can cut their energy costs and the British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) says it has also seen a spike in members concerned about rising bills.

And the problem could be about to get worse. David Sheen, BBPA policy manager for economy and environment, warns that the ending of the Carbon Reduction Commitment announced in the summer Budget could ‘shift the burden of energy taxation from large business to small businesses’- like pubs. Rates for the Climate Change Levy are also set to increase from 2019, increasing by 53% for electricity and 76% for gas, which the BBPA also warns could affect pubs, including small community locals.

Almost 30% of kitchens with foot heat lamps don’t turn them off what they’re not being used

Only 46% of pubs have upgraded their boilers to efficient condensing boilers

Setting a schedule for your boiler could save up to £200 a year

Only 10% of pubs have fitted LED lighting in back-of-house areas

Don’t keep refurbishments to the front- of-house

Carbon Architecture founder William Todd, who carried out research with the BBPA on energy use in pubs, said he had been surprised by the number of pubs who failed to invest in their back of house kit. “We saw that pubs had invested money in their front- of-house lighting but back-of-house lighting was outdated, old-fashioned and inefficient despite having some of the highest running time in the business. Even in brand-newly refurbished pubs we went to, they still had old-fashioned lighting despite it being in use almost 20 hours a day.”

Todd found a similar situation when it came to heating, which makes up around 15-20% of a pub’s energy costs. “A lot of pubs had invested in good heating equipment but we found it was very poorly controlled and scheduled almost everywhere. We saw good commercial boilers being controlled by the time clock you’d have in your house and brand new boilers with a 1970’s time clock ticking away next to it. In a large percentage of pubs the heating was turned on all year round.”

Walk round your business and look at what is being left on

A huge 40% of kitchens don’t turn off appliances like extraction fans, grills or food heat lamps when they’re not being used. Visit kitchens when there is no service, such as first thing or inbetween peak lunch and dinner times and look to see which equipment is being left on and make sure staff understand how expensive it can be keep things running. It’s also not just the kitchen where appliances could be costing you- if your pub offers accommodation with heated towel rails, think about how long they are being switched on for and consider installing time controls.

Take a closer look at your menus

Robinsons brewery teamed up with Manchester Metropolitan University’s Centre for Enterprise for the ‘Greener Retailing’ project, which aimed to help pubs go greener and save businesses money by improving efficiency. Reducing food and drink waste will have ‘immediate’ cash benefit according to the project, which suggests:

  • Monitoring and recording dishes that are regularly overcook or burnt- there might be more training needed.
  • Using a number of core items across the menu. Using the same ingredients in different dishes means you are more likely to use up stock and create less waste.
  • Looking at reducing portions and keep sizes consistent. Ensure all chefs offer the same portion sizes using spoons and measures, and use a scoop for chips.

Make sure you’re on the right tariff

One concerned delegate at the BBPA’s recent conference on energy said he regularly sees licensees offered ‘outrageous’ energy deals. Shopping around for energy deals might not be top of the to-do list when taking on a site or launching a new one but getting the right deal is vital for keeping costs down. 

For more information on saving energy visit 

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