The Restaurant Industry’s Energy Cost Problem

The Restaurant Industry’s Energy Cost Problem

The Food Service Technology Center at Pacific Gas and Electric estimates that a massive 80% of the energy used by the average restaurant is wasted to inefficient cooking, refrigeration, and holding equipment. And that’s no small loss — the average restaurant uses between five and ten times as much energy per square foot as the average retail establishment. The Energy Star division of the US Environmental Protection Agency had this to say to all restaurant owners: “There is no substitute for a comprehensive energy survey and analysis.” According to Energy Star’s study, the average restaurant uses energy thusly: Food preparation: 35% HVAC: 28% Sanitation: 18% Lighting: 13% Refrigeration: 6% Clearly, efficient food preparation and HVAC systems are crucial to keep your restaurant’s energy bills down — but how do you reduce costs for something as critical as food preparation, the literal purpose of your entire setup? Linsyx Energy is here to help. First, let’s talk about a couple of key concepts in electricity use.

Concept #1: Idle Current

Many electrical devices use electricity even when they’re off, and that’s especially true of restaurant equipment. Any device with a digital readout, any device that uses a transformer, any device that ‘sleeps’ rather than ‘turning off,’ any device with a remote control, a soft-touch keypad or touchscreen — the list of things that suck up electricity even when unused is vast. Even more inefficient are devices that are simply on all the time, even when not being used — a surprisingly common circumstance in a restaurant, where many holding stations, cooling devices, and fans are simply always going, even when they’re not needed. Sure, you need them to be cold when you need them, but that shouldn’t have to equate to being cold 24/7/365. By reducing the number of devices that are sucking up ‘idle current’ — either passively or by being active and unused — you can dramatically reduce your energy use.

Concept #2: Voltage Transients

Many devices — a microwave, HVAC unit, coffee maker, refrigerator, or so on — use a concept called power-cycling, which is basically ‘turning off and on again in order to create an effect somewhere between off and on.’ Power-cycling causes small spikes and sags in the voltage around the entire electrical circuit that the device is on. Restaurants use a significant number of devices that power-cycle, which means they’re more prone to spikes and sags than other businesses by a significant margin. This is important because those transient voltage events have several negative effects. Most profoundly in the long term, they reduce the lifespan of every other electrical item attached to the circuit. In the shorter term, however, they also reduce electrical efficiency — essentially, for every device you have attached to a circuit, every other device on that circuit becomes less efficient, using more electricity to do the same job. These two problems — idle current and voltage transients — are the prime targets for making a restaurant more electricity-efficient. Linsyx Energy has solutions for both (and more!)

The Solutions

Food preparation energy costs are the quintessential representation of the ‘idle current’ problem — you have two dozen or more large devices in your average commercial kitchen, and yet you rarely use more than half of them at the same time. With the Linsyx EnergyMoneySaver’s energy server, you can create a ‘program’ that will not just keep your unused devices in ‘idle mode,’ but will actually completely disconnect them from the power, eliminating the idle current entirely. When it comes to HVAC costs, the EnergyMoneySaver’s power conditioner can eliminate the transient voltage events that create unnecessary wear and tear on your machines, as well as reducing the amount of energy lost to heat, reactive power (energy sent back to the power company even though you paid for it!), and other inefficiencies. But before any of that can happen, Linsyx Energy will ask you to heed the words of the Energy Star program, and allow us to perform an energy audit.

The Energy Audit

The purpose of an energy audit is simple: our experts will give your retaurant a complete once-over and share a list of energy losses that you don’t need to be suffering with. We examine every use of natural gas, electricity, heat, and even the airflow through your restaurant (which can be a huge source of waste, if for example your vent hoods are sucking air from your AC straight out the roof.) We’ll come back with a list of all of the ways in which your current situation isn’t as energy-efficient as it could be, and suggestions for how to improve it.

The Energy Money Saver

A profoundly powerful three-in-one device, the Energy Money Saver consists of: The Analyzer, a powerful monitor that continuously feeds information about your energy system back to the other two parts, as well as accepting input from a huge variety of potential sensors set up around your facility; The Server, a computer that accepts input from Analyzer and uses that input to execute preprogrammed instructions about what precisely to do with the systems that it controls. The Saver, a power conditioner that resculpts the waveforms of the electricity in your building and shapes them into exactly the forms that will power your specific electrical devices with minimal losses to heat, undervoltage, overvoltage, and reactive power. In short, the Analyzer is the ‘eyes and ears,’ sensing what’s going on across your grid and sending instructions to the Saver and the Server about what they should be doing to respond. The Saver is the ‘spinal cord,’ offering reflexive and automatic energy savings by fine-tuning your energy to your specific purposes. The Server, in turn, is the ‘brain and hands’ of the system. Together, these three parts unite to offer both constant low-level energy savings and to allow you the potential to set up an enormous amount of programmable savings.

A Restaurant with an EnergyMoneySaver could…

Program the entire kitchen, except those devices which absolutely must remain powered (because, for example, they have internal clocks that must be accurate), to be cut completely off at night. Program those devices which need ‘warm up time’ but must be ready by the time employees arrive (deep fryers, for example) to come back online an hour before those employees get there. The power conditioning element alone is, in a manufacturing setting, often enough to pay for the system’s installation within 5 years; the entire unit, when installed and used properly, has been known to pay for itself within 2 years. Let’s look at how exactly those savings can be achieved, first at the Motor Systems level and then again facility-wide.

Attach motion sensors to less-used areas, and program the EMS to activate lights and other devices in the area only when an employee approaches. Attach temperature sensors in useful areas, and program the EMS to activate or de-activate fans, heaters, or other regulatory devices. Using the optional Linsyx Outdoor Light Saver, program the brightness of your parking lot and sidewalk lighting using a photovoltaic sensor, our advanced predictive system that combines calculations of the sun and moon position along with current weather, or a combination of both to determine the optimal light levels that meet both safety and efficiency standards. And do all of this while benefit from a guaranteed minimum 15% completely passive energy savings just from the power-conditioning Saver part of the system.

What would you do with the money you could save by dropping your energy bill by 20% or more? How much would your consumers appreciate knowing that they’re eating at a restaurant that is doing its part to conserve energy and ‘keep it green?’ The benefits are huge, and the cost is such that many establishments will save more in the first 24 months than they spend putting the system in place — after that, it’s pure money in your pocket. Call Linsyx Energy at 1 844-503-3968 and talk to an expert about exactly how we can help you.