Question: I keep hearing that installing an energy management system might be a good way to help reduce my energy costs. What are energy management systems, and are they good for restaurants?

Answer: If you’re really serious about cutting your energy costs, it helps to be able to both monitor and change your consumption habits quickly and easily. That’s where an energy management system (EMS) can help. An EMS is a computerized  system, usually controlled by a touchpad mounted on your wall (or through your laptop) that helps you track energy consumption and automate your systems to reduce waste.

An EMS can automate power-up and shut-down schedules for your HVAC system, lighting and equipment. With an automated system, you don’t have to worry about human error—like forgetting to turn off the air conditioner at closing—spiking your energy costs.

Even better, an EMS will generally incorporate remote-access functionality—meaning you can check the status of your systems online and adjust anything that may be amiss.

If you’re on a budget, installing an EMS that concentrates specifically on your HVAC system can be a smart choice. Generally, your HVAC accounts for approximately 28% of your restaurant’s energy consumption—and it’s the system that’s easiest to control in terms of reducing energy consumption.

Of course, if you aren’t able to invest in a computerized EMS, there are still effective energy management steps you can take:

  • Develop a power-up and shut-down routine, and have staff follow it carefully. This avoids wasting energy because of left-on equipment.
  • Turn down ranges, ovens, broilers and exhaust hoods during down times.
  • Post energy consumption guidelines and reward staff for following them.

Do you have energy management tips you’d like to share? Do you have experience with an EMS in your restaurant? Join the conversation and post a comment.

Image credit: paulivanov