The ultimate business energy efficiency guide for fast food outlets and takeaways

20 December 2016

For fast food outlets and takeaways, reducing energy use makes complete sense from a business perspective. Not only does it save money, it improves carbon emissions, and in turn enhances the business’ reputation as a responsible and energy-aware operation.

According to a report by The Carbon Trust, energy used by catering businesses accounts for 4-6% of operating costs, highlighting the importance of efficient energy management to reduce outgoings

At Gazprom Energy, we work with some of the UK’s largest fast food retailers. As demonstrated in our in-depth case studies, we’ve helped major restaurant chains manage and reduce their energy use, implementing effective strategies aimed at improving overall energy management.

We’ve borrowed from our experience in working with major restaurant and takeaway chains to produce this: The ultimate business energy efficiency guide for fast food outlets and takeaways. Packed with useful tips on how your business can operate more efficiently and reduce its energy use, our guide is perfect for fast food outlets looking to streamline operations.

The guide offers practical advice on some of the things we’d recommend to ensure your business is able to operate as efficiently as possible — so let’s get started.

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Energy saving opportunities

By making simple changes to the way your business operates, there are energy savings to be had. Here, we provide practical guidance on the changes you can make to ensure your business is as efficient as possible.

Replacing kitchen equipment

The cost of running appliances and equipment in a professional kitchen is among the most expensive energy overheads for takeaways and fast food outlets. By replacing any kitchen equipment that’s over 10 years old, and continuing to upgrade appliances on a regular basis, you could get maximum energy efficiency from the equipment your business uses every day.

When it comes to purchasing new kitchen equipment, take into account the energy efficiency of individual appliances and not just the initial purchase price. An energy efficient appliance may cost more in the short term, but the long-term savings you make on the cost of energy could offset this.

Gas-fired equipment is an attractive option for those looking to reduce their energy costs in the long-term.

coffee drink fast food takeaway

Maintaining equipment and appliances

Regularly maintaining kitchen equipment doesn’t just offer hygiene and cleanliness benefits; it can help to reduce wasted energy. Seals on oven doors should be checked weekly to guarantee correct operation and a good fit, as heat seepage can lead to less efficient operation. Burners too should be checked for efficient combustion. The easiest way to stay on top of appliance maintenance is to draw up a schedule, and assign the responsibility of cleanliness and upkeep to different members of staff.

The condition of appliances in the kitchen can have a sizeable impact on their energy efficiency, so it’s a good idea to combine scheduled maintenance with a stringent approach to switching appliances off when not in use. Grills, fryers, hobs and ovens use a massive amount of energy, and turning them off when they’re not needed can lead to significant energy savings, as well as a more comfortable working environment.

Some modern professional kitchen appliances have automatic switch off technology, specifically aimed at helping businesses save energy. Such equipment can save energy costs by up to 5%, according to The Carbon Trust report cited above.

Refrigeration Management

Takeaways and fast food outlets rely on refrigeration technology at all times, meaning the cost of keeping food and ingredients cool can make up a significant percentage of your overall energy bill.

As with all kitchen appliances, refrigeration systems work most efficiently when correctly maintained. By including refrigeration within your kitchen maintenance schedule, you can guarantee the efficiency of your cooling appliances — helping you to save energy and cut costs.

Make sure that you follow the correct defrost procedure as set out in the appliance’s instructions. Regular defrosting saves energy and extends the life of equipment, so we’d recommend thoroughly defrosting refrigerator systems every one to two months.

Maintenance should be carried out alongside regular defrosting to guarantee absolute energy efficiency. Check door seals on food stores, and make sure that the condenser and evaporation coil are both kept free from dust, dirt and grime.

To save energy when refrigerating food, it’s also important to avoid overcooling by storing food items at the correct temperature. The amount of energy refrigeration units consume can be reduced by up to 4% by storing items at a temperature 1°C higher than usual.

As a guide to the correct and most energy efficient storage temperatures for food products, please refer to the table below.

Temperature code Product temperature Suitable for
L1 Between -15°C/-18°C Frozen food and ice cream
L2 Between -12°C/-18°C Frozen foods
M0 Between -1°C/+4°C Poultry and meat
M1 Between -1°C/+5°C Meat and dairy products
M2 Between -1°C/+7°C Processed meat and dairy
H1 Between +1°C/+10°C Fresh products, canned and bottled drinks
H2 Between -1°C/+10°C Canned and bottled drinks

* The products in this table are only a guide. Refer to the Food Safety (Temperature Control) Regulations 1995 or your food supplier for more specific information relating to your food storage requirements.
** The maximum temperatures shown are those allowed after defrost.

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Hot water

All fast food outlets and takeaways rely on hot water provision, but this can lead to considerable energy costs.

One of the simplest ways to reduce the cost of heating water is to set a maximum water temperature for the building. Heating water to an excessively high temperature can be wasteful, particularly if the water gets so hot that it’s unusable. The recommended maximum temperature for fast food outlets is 60°C, which is both comfortable for guest and staff use, and capable of killing harmful bacteria, such as Legionella. The maximum water temperature can usually be adjusted at the boiler.

It’s also a good idea to install tap controls in both the kitchen and customer toilets. This provision prevents water being used wastefully by automatically stopping the flow after a certain amount of time — ultimately preventing water from being heated unnecessarily.

fast food takeaway burgers



Effective lighting is central to the success of a fast food restaurant or takeaway, affecting not just practical elements such as health and safety, but also the comfort of customers. Lighting may be one of the most expensive energy costs food outlets face, but by implementing efficient lighting controls and investing in innovative lighting technologies, businesses could reduce their lighting costs by as much as 50%.

One of the simplest things your business can do to improve its lighting efficiency is to install low-energy bulbs. By upgrading traditional light bulbs to compact fluorescent lamps (CFL) or LEDs, you can expect to use 75% and 80% less energy respectively. It’s a good idea to consult a specialist lighting technician before upgrading the lighting setup of your premises. They will be able to help you choose the correct bulbs and systems from the Energy Technology List to adequately illuminate your business whilst saving on energy costs.

Another tip to save on the cost of lighting is to promote a ‘switch off’ policy among all staff members. By making members of staff aware of the importance of turning off lights (as well as other equipment), you can be sure that energy isn’t being wasted unnecessarily.

If your premises have rooms which are only used infrequently — such as store cupboards, staff toilets and cellars — it’s a good idea to install occupancy sensors. These systems detect movement, and will only trigger the light to switch on when someone steps inside. Occupancy sensors are excellent when used in rooms like the ones listed above, helping to achieve savings of up to 30% on the cost of lighting a particular space.

Keeping in the heat

For fast food outlets which require heating to optimise guest comfort, this can prove a costly overhead. Even if you implement ‘zones’ within the building where separate timers and temperature controls can be adjusted, it’s difficult to maintain a steady temperature whilst ensuring complete energy efficiency.

One of the simplest ways for food outlets to optimise the efficiency of their heating system is to seal the building against potential drafts, and keep external doors and windows closed whenever possible to reduce the amount of heat allowed to escape. If your business hasn’t already done so, consider adding a self-closing entrance door so that customers are unable to leave it ajar, as this can have a big impact on the efficiency of the heating. When the business is closed, ensure that all doors, windows and vents are closed to capture and store any residual heat overnight, reducing the amount of heat required to warm the building the next day.

Better energy management across the entire business

While much of this guide has concentrated on practical and technical steps you can take to optimise energy efficiency, simply by taking action to improve the energy management of your business can help to lower energy costs.

Many of the opportunities to save energy are within the control of staff themselves, so a change in culture and a better approach to energy could be just what your business needs to start saving on the cost of gas and electricity.

Below, we’ve collated a few hints and tips on how to improve the energy management of your food outlet business.

Promote the benefits of energy efficiency

Given they don’t pay the energy bill, some members of staff may be unaware of the impact of poor energy consumption within the business. To raise awareness of the importance of energy efficiency, staff should be reminded of the following benefits of good energy management:

  • Environmental benefits
  • Cost savings — which could translate into higher wages
  • Healthier and comfortable working conditions
  • Enhanced environmental credentials

Lead by example

Commitment to energy efficiency needs to come from the top, so always lead by example when championing efficient working practices. We’d recommend drawing up an energy efficiency mission statement, highlighting the business’ commitment to saving energy, which can be shared among staff and referred back to when promoting energy management within the business.

fast food restaurant


Record and understand your consumption

To reduce the energy use of your food outlet, you’ve got to first understand how, where and when your business consumes energy - only then will you know where to implement energy saving measures, and be able to track their effectiveness.

Start by taking regular meter readings once a month, and pass these on to your supplier. You’ll then be able to compare your current usage with previous bills, making it easier to show where improvements are being made.

Monitoring energy consumption is important for businesses of all sizes, allowing them to quickly identify where energy savings can be made. Indeed, Nando’s, one of the UK’s largest and most successful fast food outlets, were keen to have access to the individual consumption data for each of their separate restaurants, so that store managers could monitor energy use and be better placed to implement energy-saving strategies. This ultimately removes the disconnect between managers and energy consumption, allowing individual restaurants to keep a track of changes in consumption. You can find out more about Nando’s energy strategy in our in-depth case study, here.

Set targets

Once you’re able to monitor how your business consumes energy, it’s possible to set targets for staff members to help reduce the amount of energy consumed. For instance, over the course of a calendar year, you could aim to reduce the amount of energy your business consumes by 10% by promoting good energy management to members of staff. To promote this, you could incentivise staff with monetary bonuses or other small perks that promote energy efficient working practices. Hitting energy reduction targets like this will have a positive impact on the business, and should be shared in marketing material promoting the business.

Actionable checklist for energy efficiency

 If you’re keen to start saving energy within your food outlet business, start ticking items off the actionable checklist provided below:

  • Promote a ‘switch off’ policy for lighting, kitchen appliances and other equipment.
  • Replace existing light bulbs with low-energy alternatives, preferably LED or CFL bulbs.
  • Draw up a maintenance schedule for kitchen appliances, lighting fixtures and other equipment.
  • Set a maximum temperature for hot water, and consider investing in tap controls for customer toilets.
  • Ensure heating thermostats are set correctly for separate zones, and make sure all doors and windows are closed to prevent heat loss.
  • Set refrigeration equipment to the correct temperature for the food being stored, and schedule in a time to defrost the appliances.
  • Write a mission statement outlining your commitment to energy efficiency, and begin to promote good energy management to members of staff.
  • Provide your supplier with an accurate meter read, and begin to consider where energy savings could be made. Draw up energy targets to achieve going forward, and share these goals with all relevant members of staff.

At Gazprom Energy, we help thousands of businesses across the UK manage their energy consumption. To find out more about what we can do for your business, don’t forget to visit our homepage. Alternatively, give us a call on 0161 837 3395 and our team will be happy to help.

The views, opinions and positions expressed within this article are those of our third party content providers alone and do not represent those of Gazprom Energy. The accuracy, completeness and validity of any statements made within this article are not guaranteed. Gazprom Energy accepts no liability for any errors, omissions or representations.

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