chef in a restaurant

Savor the profits from energy efficiency! Your restaurant’s profit is typically only 3–9 percent of total revenue. Follow these ENERGY STAR cost-effective recommendations and your investment in energy efficiency can give you up to a 30-percent return.

Plus, you may also receive other delightful surprises such as increased customer comfort, better lighting, more repeat business, and increased employee productivity.

Get help with saving energy … and help your bottom line

Restaurants use about five to seven times more energy per square foot than other commercial buildings. High-volume quick-service restaurants (QSRs) may even use up to 10 times more energy per square foot than other commercial buildings. As energy costs increase, investing in energy efficiency is the best way to protect your business against these rising prices.

Tips for saving energy

Get started today with these tips for improving the efficiency of your restaurant.

Quick fixes

If you: You can:
Light your dining area with dimmable incandescent light bulbs Replace them with dimmable compact fluorescent light bulbs
Light any area, including under your exhaust hood, with non-dimming incandescent light bulbs Replace them with compact fluorescent light bulbs
Set your heating and cooling thermostat(s) by hand Install a programmable thermostat and use night setback
Only partially fill your refrigerators and freezers Keep your newer refrigerators and freezers filled; empty and disconnect older ones
Clean your refrigerator and freezer condenser coils infrequently Clean them every three months
Have cracked or warped refrigerator or freezer gaskets or hinges Replace or repair them
Operate any appliance when it is not needed Turn it off


If you: You can:
Light your dining area or kitchen with standard fluorescent lighting and magnetic ballasts Replace them with T-8 fluorescent lamps with electronic ballasts
Provide too much light in your dining area during daytime hours Install a daylighting control system
Light your exit signs with incandescent bulbs Replace the bulbs with light emitting diode (LED) exit sign retrofit kits
Light your parking area with incandescent or mercury vapor lighting Replace it with high-pressure sodium or metal halide lighting (add photocells and a timer for additional savings)
Manually turn the lights in refrigerators, freezers, and storage areas on and off Replace the switches with occupancy sensors (low-temperature sensors in refrigerators)
Spotlight areas with incandescent light bulbs Replace them with halogen bulbs

Kitchen enhancements

If you: You can:
Fry food with a conventional gas fryer Replace it with an infrared gas fryer or a high-efficiency atmospheric gas fryer
Have a 10- to 20-year-old conventional dishwasher Replace it with an insulated dishwasher, or replace it with an infrared gas dishwasher
Have a walk-in refrigerator Install evaporator fan controls to reduce fan use
Leave your walk-in refrigerator door open when loading it Install a plastic strip curtain over the entrance
Have a refrigerator that needs replacing Replace it with a high-efficiency refrigerator

 Large investments

If you: You can:
Have an oil or gas boiler or furnace that is ready for replacement Replace it with a high-efficiency oil or gas boiler or furnace
Heat your dining area with electric resistance baseboard heaters Replace resistance heating and old cooling system with a heat pump (if you are in a temperate climate zone)
Cool your dining area and kitchen with an old, standard-efficiency air-conditioning system Replace it with a high-efficiency electric or gas air-conditioning system
Use evaporative coolers Check monthly to ensure the evaporator element and drain are not clogged
Spotlight areas with incandescent light bulbs Replace them with halogen bulbs
Exhaust cooking fumes with a standard exhaust hood that needs to be replaced Replace it with hoods optimized for your cooking needs
Need to replace your heating and cooling systems Replace them with a geothermal heat pump (ask your local utility about rebates)
Need to replace your dining area heating and cooling systems Include desiccant energy recovery in the replacement system
Need to replace your kitchen cooling system Include evaporative cooling in the design
Manually control your lighting, heating, and cooling Install an energy management system
Use personal computers in your restaurant Specify ENERGY STAR certified computers
Have large un-tinted glass wall space Install clear coating on the south and west windows

Did You Know?

Graphic showing that a reduction of 20% in energy operating costs can lead to an increase of 33% in profit.

The money you save on operating costs adds to what you get to keep, so saving 20 percent on energy operating costs can increase your profit as much as one-third.