Eclipsing Energy Waste

Richard Young, Director of Education and Senior Engineer at Frontier Energy and the PG&E Food Service Technology Center, San Ramon, Calif., wrote a great blog in anticipation of August’s solar eclipse. California meets as much as 40% of its electric demand with solar power and he was wondering what effect the temporary loss of the sun’s full energy would have on the state’s electric grid. Guesses put the loss of peak generation at about 6,000 megawatts, enough to power up six million homes. But of course, the state was well prepared for the short-term loss of solar energy.

I enjoyed the blog because Young cleverly used the eclipse to segue into how to save electricity every day in foodservice, and the tips are worth sharing.

The lowest hanging fruit is upgrading to LED lighting. If you replace 60W incandescents with 4W LED Edison lamps, you get the same lighting at a 15-fold reduction in electricity an d they last for years. Train staffers to shut off lights in unused spaces too, including empty dining rooms, storerooms and offices, and shut off signage if you’re closed.

Clean your refrigeration coils. Really dirty coils can double the electricity your coolers and freezers use. Coated coils can’t expel heat; which makes the unit work harder to maintain internal cold temperatures. (Imagine having to breathe through tightly-woven burlap; it makes breathing hard.) Coils are very easy to clean, provided you can get at them.

Wait until you fire up your appliances before turning on your exhaust hoods (and for that matter, don’t fire up your appliances before you need them. Most only take 15 minutes to reach temperature). Running the hoods when they’re not required is a waste of fan power.

Service your air-conditioning units. Poor maintenance is a major cause of rooftop AC unit failure and a drag on the electric grid. Get a preventive maintenance plan in place.

In the dishroom, load your racks as fully as possible so you run fewer racks through the machine, shortening run time. This is especially important for hightemp machines that have both electric tank heaters and electric booster heaters.

This issue, you can read up on lots of ways to save energy and enhance your bottom line in “Energy Smart,” pg. 46. And don’t forget that you have a fantastic energy resource at


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