Making your coffee shop or restaurant more energy-efficient might seem like a daunting task, but its benefits include lower operational costs, higher profit margins, and a more sustainable brand image. It can also reduce your carbon emissions and help you develop a greener business model in the long term.
The global hospitality sector uses a significant amount of energy. According to the Carbon Trust, the total energy consumption of the hospitality industry in the UK alone is estimated to be more than 21,600 million kWh per year. Energy usage isn’t just an environmental concern, however; it also represents a cost for business owners, too.
So, which measures can you take to improve energy efficiency in your coffee shop or restaurant? And should you change your equipment? Read on to learn more.
Energy efficient coffee shops: What are the benefits?
Lower your costs
Any successful coffee shop or restaurant will need to power a wide range of equipment, including ovens, air conditioners, espresso machines, water boilers, refrigerators, and cleaning devices, to name just a few.
Each piece of equipment in your premises will need a power source to function when it’s in use; some will even need a constant supply (such as refrigerators and freezers).
Energy usage typically accounts for between 4% and 6% of a business’ total operating costs. However, because hospitality businesses often operate on relatively low profit margins, these costs can become a problem if they increase even fractionally.
This means that transitioning to energy efficient equipment can make a significant difference to your balance sheet by lowering your operating costs and improving your profitability.
Even if new equipment requires an investment, over time, your energy savings can end up “paying off” this initial outlay.
Improved brand image
Today’s consumers are increasingly focused on the social and environmental impact of their buying habits.
As such, it has become paramount for cafés and restaurants to communicate a genuine commitment to the environment. Figures vary, but some surveys suggest that as many as 88% of consumers will actively choose brands that help them live more sustainably.
This means that choosing equipment that makes your business greener can improve your brand image and consequently increase footfall. If environmentally-conscious customers can see you’ve made an effort to reduce your carbon footprint and contribute to a more sustainable supply chain, they will be more inclined to visit your business.
What can hospitality businesses do to become more energy efficient?
The exact measures that hospitality businesses can take to become more energy efficient depends on a number of factors. These include the size and location of your premises, as well as the specific food and beverage products that you offer.
However, there are some steps that are relevant to most hospitality businesses, regardless of the conditions in which they operate.
Monitoring energy consumption
The first step on the path to improved energy efficiency is simple: measure your usage. While the majority of hospitality businesses will already do this, they tend to monitor their energy use in terms of cost, rather than volume.
This means that they won’t see the immediate impact of any changes they make, and instead will have to gauge energy use based on monthly or quarterly utility bills.
“Smart” equipment offers hospitality businesses the opportunity to monitor and analyse their energy consumption in real time. By doing so, they can keep an eye on how much each implemented change has an effect.
By actively monitoring your energy usage, you can also identify “hidden” issues in your business, which might be increasing your energy usage. Monitoring can also help you figure out when a piece of equipment is using too much energy, and give you the opportunity to repair or replace it.
Make small changes
Becoming more energy efficient doesn’t always mean making big, costly decisions. Small changes like installing LED lighting, cleaning your ventilation, using timers, and turning off monitors at the end of the day can all have a positive impact. Over time, the energy you save from these small tweaks will add up.
Make a note of every task your team completes through the course of a single working day, and go through it with them one item at a time. Ask yourself: is there anything else you can do to save energy, even if it’s just a small amount?
Invest in the right equipment
In the past few years, energy efficiency has become a keen priority for equipment manufacturers, and usage standards have increased dramatically. While your older espresso machine or boiler might be reliable and familiar, there is every chance that it’s using more energy than a newer model might.
As such, investing in greener equipment can be a key way to reduce your energy usage. For example, Marco’s MIX water boiler range is designed to be 70% more energy efficient, and has a vacuum insulated tank for minimal energy loss.
Another example is the new MT8 water boiler, which is both energy efficient and cost-effective. Much like the MIX, the MT8 has an insulated tank, but it has also been designed with a minimal countertop footprint to save space.
Once you have invested in energy efficient equipment, the next step is to install energy management systems. Alongside smart meters and monitoring equipment, these allow business owners to analyse and optimise their energy usage.
For café and restaurant owners, improving energy efficiency should be a key priority. Not only does it increase your profitability, it can refine your brand image by communicating a genuine commitment to sustainability.
Thankfully, there are a number of different ways to make your business more energy efficient, from little changes to long-term investments. If you make the right choices, no matter how small, you’ll soon start to reap the benefits while minimising your environmental impact.