Exercise more. Quit smoking. Stop eating pie for breakfast.

Sound familiar? ‘Tis the season for New Year’s resolutions.

Well, break out the Thigh Master, by all means—but if you’re running a restaurant, you might want to consider a couple of other resolutions.

Save costs. Reduce your environmental footprint. Decrease your energy consumption.

How? Well, we’ve done the thinking for you. Choosing just one of these energy-saving measures can make a real difference.

  1. Replace your lightbulbs. Oh, yawn. You’ve heard it a million times—replacing your lightbulbs can save you a bundle on your electricity costs, because compact fluorescents use only 10 percent of the energy that incandescents do. A single CFL bulb will pay for itself within 12 months, and last up to ten times longer than a standard bulb. Well, it’s true—and 2012 is the perfect time to start switching, because incandescent bulbs are being phased out this year. If you don’t want to switch everything all at once, trade out your exit signs, your freezer lights and your task lighting to start.
  2. Install a programmable thermostat and establish a set-back routine. Are you wasting money by heating or cooling your restaurant when there’s no-one in it—simply because someone forgot to turn the thermostat down? Stop user error from eating into your energy costs by installing a programmable thermostat that will automatically adjust the heating and cooling depending on occupancy. You can save up to 10 percent on your heating/cooling bills simply by ensuring an appropriate temperature.
  3. Consider serving more vegetarian meals. Healthful, local cuisine is a hot trend, showing up on any number of food trend lists for 2012—and meat-free meals have a much lower carbon footprint than dishes that feature meat as the main attraction.
  4. Look at on-demand technology. Whether it’s motion sensors on bathroom lights and fans, tankless hot-water heaters or a demand-control ventilation hood for your range, only using energy when you actually need it is a great way to cut a chunk out of your energy costs. (And if you need convincing, check out our energy efficiency incentives for some good deals on on-demand stuff.)
  5. Switch your take-out containers. Yes, take-out containers made from biodegradable or recycled materials are more expensive—but studies show that customers are willing to pay a small premium for sustainable products. Better yet, encourage customers to use reusable cups and plates if their order is “for here,” or offer a discount for customers bringing their own mug.

One word of warning—don’t try and do all these things at once. One at a time is best to get maximum staff buy-in and reduce your up-front expenditures.

What’s your New Year’s resolution for your restaurant? Share your thoughts in the comments section.

Image credit: DIVA007