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Energy Management

Today’s restaurateurs would be foolish not to keep up on the topics of U.S and world energy policy and the environmental impacts of energy use. Not only must they monitor and control their own utility bills, but they also must determine their business’s energy footprint. In today’s business world, customers expect companies of all types and sizes to use limited natural resources wisely while minimizing the negative impact on the environment. It is a constant balancing act, but it can pay dividends in the community, in terms of good public relations and responsible citizenship, as well as saving money.         
In this article, we will discuss:           
The basics of U.S. energy policy and today’s alternative energy options;                 
How to determine your annual electricity costs;          
How to get and understand an energy audit of your site;           
Terms you should know to track your own energy use and decipher your utility bills;           
Basic electrical principles: how power flows into your building and equipment;       
Tips for choosing energy-efficient equipment;       
Tips for saving energy in all phases of a foodservice operation;      
This article focuses primarily on electricity. Other utilities—gas, steam, and water—and plumbing issues are covered in next article.            

U.S. restaurants spend more than $5 billion per year on energy; in 2006, an estimated median expenditure of $161 per seat. Energy use per square foot in a foodservice facility is greater than in any other type of commercial building—more than triple what a hospital uses per square foot and at least six times what an office building uses per square foot (see Illustration 5-1). Illustration 5-2 gives you the basic guidelines for how energy is used in a restaurant.        
On your profit-and-loss statement, utility costs will be only 4 to 7 percent of your total operating expenses. However, National Restaurant Association studies suggest they are expenses that can be cut by as much as 20 percent with smarter energy consumption; utility companies claim you can realize savings as high as 30 percent. These potential savings, of course, have a major and direct impact on your bottom-line profit. Table 5-1 charts the potential savings, which vary (of course) with your electric costs and amount of savings. And remember, because its energy use is so high, this type of business is especially vulnerable to fluctuations in energy costs.

ILLUSTRATION 5-1 Businesses that use the most energy.



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