Question: Summer’s almost here, and I know I’m going to be running my restaurant air conditioner a lot. How do I save money and energy this summer?

Answer: Your neighbourhood may not look like Boat Quay in Singapore, which is where we got our picture—but there are lots of  things you can do to make sure your air conditioning system is running as efficiently as possible. It’s worth it, since heating and air conditioning make up about 25% of your energy costs, second only to cooking. For every degree you turn your air conditioner down, you add another 4-5 percent to your energy costs—so here’s how to get the most cooling bang for your buck.

  • Use the factory set points on your AC. Keep your AC around 24 degrees during business hours and turn it up to 28 when the restaurant’s unoccupied. Keeping your customers comfortable is paramount, of course, so ask your patrons if they’re OK with the temperature—or at least keep an eye out for profuse sweating or shivering!
  • Get a programmable thermostat. A programmable thermostat allows you to “set it and forget it,” cooling down the restaurant shortly before you open, and putting the temperature up automatically once service is over. Manually adjusting the thermostat is easy to forget and can a) waste a lot of energy and b) make your patrons uncomfortable.
  • Put a lockable cover on your thermostat. This story from Chowhound featuring a pushy patron on a summer’s day illustrates why. No one should have access to your thermostat except the staff you designate.
  • Shade rooftop AC units. Units that are left in full heat have to work harder and use more energy. Shading the unit allows it to work more efficiently, saving you money.
  • Keep on top of maintenance. Schedule regular maintenance calls before the summer gets underway, making sure coils and evaporators are cleaned and filters are cleaned or replaced.
  • Consider installing an air door to keep cool air inside. If you have a patio (or a door that opens and closes regularly), consider an air door, which creates a barrier that keeps cool air inside and hot air outside. (Interested? Check out our energy efficient rebates and incentives for a deal on air doors.)

What do you do to make sure you’re ready for summer? Share your thoughts in the comments section.

Image credit: beggs