A professional energy audit is always a smart choice when you’re investing in efficiency measures—but this checklist gives you a good idea of steps you can take to improve efficiency on your own. (Thanks to the Gas Foodservices Network and Southern California Gas for the information.)

There are five areas to evaluate:

  1. Your kitchen and serving area
  2. Your dining room
  3. Your dish room
  4. Your rooftop
  5. Your parking lot/exterior

1. Kitchen and serving area


  • Install compact fluorescent lightbulbs
  • If you’re not using CFLs, dim or turn off the lights in areas that aren’t being used
  • Clean lighting fixtures
  • Use occupancy sensors or timers in isolated areas like walk-ins and storage rooms


  • Install a low-flow pre-rinse sprayer
  • Look for and fix water leaks
  • Set your water heater to an appropriate temperature (water heaters can stay at 140°)
  • Insulate your hot water lines
  • Turn off any booster heaters at the end of the night and turn off dishwashers


  • Use programmable thermostats and set them appropriately; make sure they have functioning batteries
  • Install a demand-control ventilation system (or find out how you can get a discount on installation); if you don’t have one, turn off your exhaust and make-up air fans when appliances are not in use
  • Place your appliances directly under exhaust hoods
  • Clean your exhaust hood grease filters clean


  • Make sure your refrigerator door gaskets seal properly
  • Install strip curtains, or check that existing ones are undamaged
  • Use door closers, or make sure existing ones work
  • Remove clutter from around your evaporator to ensure optimal airflow
  • Clean your condenser and evaporator coils
  • Ensure your defrost clocks are set properly
  • Check that the temperature in your freezer and walk-in cooler is correct using an external thermometer

Food prep

  • Establish and follow an appliance start-up and shut-down schedule
  • Turn off plug loads when possible, paying particular attention to heat lamps, coffee warmers, holding cabinets, steam tables, plate warmers and conveyor toasters
  • Align your oven/steamer doors and make sure the gaskets seal properly

2. Dining room


  • Install compact fluorescent lightbulbs
  • Use LED exit signs
  • Install occupancy sensors in isolated spaces like party rooms and banquet halls, as well as restrooms (but keep one restroom fixture on during occupied hours)
  • Install window film to block sun-generated heat (consider using a professional installer for best results)


  • Set your thermostat to 24° for occupied cooling and 30° for unoccupied cooling; turn off your air conditioning fan during unoccupied hours
  • Set your thermostat to 20° for occupied heating and 12° for unoccupied heating; turn off your heating fan during unoccupied hours
  • Install programmable thermostats with locking covers
  • Turn off your restroom exhaust fans during unoccupied hours

3. Dish room


  • Use compact fluorescent lightbulbs


  • Turn off your dishwasher exhaust hood during unoccupied hours


  • Install a low-flow pre-rinse spray valve
  • Check for water leaks
  • Make sure your water heater elements are free of corrosion
  • Run your dishwasher only with a full load
  • Turn off conveyors and water troughs during unoccupied hours
  • Install high efficiency dishwashing equipment

4. Roof top


  • Clean exhaust fans and check for loose belts
  • Replace fan motors with high efficiency units
  • Replace dirty air conditioning filters

5. Parking lot/exterior


  • Install timers for exterior lights and/or photocells
  • Turn off parking lot, soffit, sign, decorative and roof lights whenever possible
  • Consider using motion sensors or lights with bi-level controls
  • Install compact fluorescent lightbulbs


  • Turn off patio heaters when not in use

Also, be sure to learn about incentives to make your restaurant more energy efficient. Check out our Rebates section to get started.

And if you have any other ideas for a do-it-yourself energy audit, share them in the comments.

Image credit: basheertome