10 Green Ways to Cut Your Utility Bills, Trim Your Energy, Water and Garbage Bills by Going Green

Many people in the business world have the misconception that going green means higher costs or lower quality, but most �green� practices are just good business. Restaurants are the most energy intensive commercial businesses in the United States, so naturally it makes sense that owners would want to cut their energy costs. Environmentally friendly practices do not need to be expensive and more often are simple, low or no-cost solutions that not only save money but benefit the environment as well. Here are ten ways to be more sustainable and trim your bills:

1. Install low-flow pre-wash sprayers: Low-flow sprayers can save as much as $1000 a year in water and water heating costs. They can pay for themselves in a matter of weeks.

2. Preventative Maintenance: Restaurants are notorious for abusing equipment and only providing maintenance when something goes wrong. A regular, documented cleaning and maintenance schedule will help keep equipment running longer and more efficiently. Create a schedule of weekly, monthly and annual dates to calibrate, clean and inspect all the equipment in the house.

3. Energy Efficient Equipment: Three organizations qualify energy and water efficient commercial kitchen equipment. The Energy Star program qualifies seven types of equipment. The units are eligible for incentives and tax rebates in many states, and often cost little to no more than standard equipment. The Consortium for Energy Efficiency divides Energy Star rated equipment into three tiers with higher efficiency equipment labeled as tier 2 or 3. Some tier 3 equipment is 50% more efficient than Energy Star requirements. Finally, the Food Service Technology Center maintains several lists of equipment not qualified by Energy Star or the CEE. In addition, consider variable speed exhaust hoods that may use 40% less energy than standard units.

4. Energy Checklists: Create start-up and shutdown checklists so equipment isturned on only when needed, turned down during slow periods and turned off when not needed. Simple, conscientious practices like this help reduce energy consumption and can be very beneficial to a business� bottom-line.

5. Waste Management: Practice the habits of reduce, reuse and recycle with the emphasis on reduce. The best way to reduce waste is to not produce it in the first place. Discontinue the use of unnecessary items like frilly toothpicks and drink umbrellas, buy products in bulk, use reusable goods wherever possible and recycle, donate and compost everything possible.

6. Install WaterSense plumbing fixtures: WaterSense is the water equivalent of the Energy Star program. They rate faucets, aerators, toilets, urinals and landscape watering systems that use at least 20% less water than standard equipment. A few $2 aerators can save a business serving 500 meals a day over $500 a year.

7. Get audits from utilities and municipalities: Many local organizations provide free energy, water and waste audits that offer advice, technical and sometimes financial assistance for upgrades and program development. Take advance of these free professional services.

8. Upgrade lighting: Some lighting upgrades are as simple as installing CFL bulbs in storage areas and exhaust hoods. Other upgrades like high-efficiency linear fluorescents, LEDs and ceramic metal halides are costeffective improvements that requirerequire a professional electrician.

9. Office: Conservation does not stop in the kitchen or dining room. Thoughtful energy and paper use in the office can cut costs significantly. Always print double-sided, reuse old menus for notes or memos, program POS systems to use less paper and energy management settings on computers.

10. Integrate sustainability practices into employee training: Properly trained employees will ensure a successful resource conservation program. Involve staff in program development and encourage an open dialogue to improve conservation efforts.

Sustainable practices are a wise choice for all food service businesses. Reducing energy use, water use and cutting waste are good for both yourbottom-line and the environment. Implementing new programs can take time and may be a bumpy road, but a well-trained staff with a committed management team will overcome any obstacles and enthusiastically expand sustainability efforts. Be flexible with new programs and ready to adjust current business practices.

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