Refrigeration is a key requirement for any food service business, whether it’s a full restaurant or a small cafe with a single refrigerated case. Keeping food properly cold takes a lot of energy, which can be hard on your company’s energy bill. Fortunately, there are ways to save energy on your commercial refrigeration appliances. The following tips can help.
Tip #1: Close the Case
Open cases can be a big issue when it comes to wasted energy, since their compressors must work constantly to keep items cold. Switching to cases with a simple glass door can help conserve some of the cold air so the compressors don’t have to be constantly drawing energy. If you must have an open case for your customers, you should at least make a point of covering it up at night. Night curtains are available. These insulated plastic or fabric curtains can be pulled over the case when you are closed, saving energy and keeping all the food cold.
Tip #2: Walk-In Woes
Your walk-in cooler or freezer is another major energy hog. Each time the door is opened, the cold air rushes out, and then the compressor works overtime to get it cold again. If your walk-in sees a lot of traffic, install cooler curtain strips. These thick plastic strips don’t impede movement, even if you are carrying a heavy box of product, but they do minimize air loss, since much of the door remains blocked by them. Wear and tear can lead to breakage of the strips, but fortunately, replacement strips are inexpensive and easy to install.
Tip #3: Cleaning Day
Keeping all commercial refrigeration units clean needs to be a regular part of your employees’ weekly maintenance program. Dust and dirt on the refrigeration coils forces them to work harder to keep your cooler at the proper temperature. They should be dusted off or vacuumed once a week. If food spills or other grime has collected on the coil, unplug the unit and wash down the coil with a commercial condenser coil cleaner. Make sure it is completely dry before plugging the cooler back in.
While the unit is unplugged, take a few minutes to inspect the fan. Dust it as needed and make sure it is moving freely.
Tip #4: Good Gaskets
The gaskets around the door are the final key to energy savings. These rubber gaskets need to be in good working order, which means you should replace them if they are damaged in any way. Otherwise, cold air will be constantly leaking from the coolers. Food and dirt in the gaskets can also affect how well they seal the doors. You can clean gaskets with soapy water. If they are really dirty, most gaskets are removable so you can soak them in warm water before wiping them clean and replacing them.