Starring Role: Energy Star-certified products able to deliver money-saving performance

By Kent Waddington

Since 1992, Energy Star has been working hard to ensure that products receiving Energy Star certification meet the highest possible energy efficiency standards. The mission is simple: make managing energy as easy as possible, help business owners save utility dollars and protect the climate by reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Developed by the United States Environmental Protection Agency, and administered in Canada by Natural Resources Canada, the Energy Star symbol means that a product, new home, building or industrial facility is certified as highly energy efficient.

The biggest gains can be made in the most energy-intensive environments, and commercial foodservice is very energy-intensive. According to the Energy Star Guide for Cafés, Restaurants, and Institutional Kitchens, food preparation equipment consumes 35 per cent of the energy in the average Canadian commercial or institutional kitchen. Whether you’re refrigerating, cooking or holding food, there are significant energy savings to be found in using Energy Star certified appliances in your kitchen.

Out With the Old

Performing an audit of your energy-consuming foodservice equipment and appliances is the first step in determining the energy and water savings possible through Energy Star-qualified products. A quick walk-through of your facility, recording relevant details of each product such as energy demand, hours of operation, and volume/capacity will provide you with the basic data with which to calculate potential utility savings through the free downloadable Energy Star Simple Savings Calculator. That will show you how much money you can save and the environmental benefits of buying Energy Star-certified products. The calculator can compare up to three models of a single type of product including annual operating costs, life-cycle costs, payback periods, total energy savings and total cost savings. The complementary Energy Star Summary Calculator compares different types of products at one time and can assess savings from purchasing multiple types of Energy Star-certified products.

If you’re thinking about replacing aging appliances, then break out of the “like-for-like” mentality and investigate the Energy Star alternatives. It is important to remember the cost of energy to operate a product over its lifetime is just as significant as its initial purchase price. In fact, some of these products can differ in their energy use by 70 per cent. The Health Care Food Services Resource Guide – Going green in the kitchen with Energy Star contains a simple equipment audit worksheet to help you conduct your audit.

Energy-Saving Tips for Your Kitchen

Cut idle time: Leaving equipment on standby costs money. Implement a start-up/shutdown plan to make sure you’re using only the equipment that you need, when you need it.

Kitchen Ventilation: An unbalanced or poorly designed kitchen exhaust system can allow heat and smoke to spill into your kitchen, spelling trouble for both your kitchen’s air quality and for your utility bills. You can also turn off your exhaust hood when the appliances are off during non-business hours and install a demand-based exhaust control system which uses sensors to monitor your cooking and varies the exhaust fan speed to match your ventilation needs.

Maintain and repair: While a leaky gasket, clogged burner or loose oven-door hinges may not waste much energy, combine all three and suddenly the waste is not so insignificant. Stop waste by staying on top of repairs.

As part of Energy Star’s ongoing certification program, technical specifications are routinely updated and new standards introduced. Revisions to commercial hot food holding cabinets, commercial dishwashers, commercial ovens, water heaters and vending machines are all in development, adding to the list of more than 100 kinds of residential and commercial Energy Star products in Canada.

Kent Waddington is an environmental leadership coach and communications director of the Canadian Coalition for Green Health Care. He can be reached at kent@greenhealthcare.ca.

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