Back of House Lighting
- The majority of lighting you have behind the scenes will be for enabling staff to carry out their duties efficiently and in accordance with health and safety considerations. Don’t be tempted to scrimp on lighting in these areas, a claim for a fall or a fine for inadequate lighting will cost you more than you will save in energy costs!
- There is an urban myth that leaving fluorescent lights on costs less than starting them up each time you need to light a room. It takes less than 1/120th of a second of high power to fire a fluorescent tube up, however turning on and off reduces the life of the tube so my rule of thumb is if the room is likely to be unused within 5 minutes turn it off!
- All other lighting should only be turned on as needed, for instance staff toilets, staff rooms, and one that many cooks forget the heating lamp gantry in the kitchen whose halogen lights use great amounts of energy.
- At the end of the day ensure that all your stores, cellar and back of house lighting is turned off, make it part of your staff’s close down procedure.
- Only turn outside lighting on when it is getting or has got dark. In the same way as you have to balance ambience against health and safety indoors so must you outdoors. Chances are that if you have a beer garden or other outside area that smokers will be using it so make sure their access to and from their habitual spots is well lit.
- It’s a great temptation on grey days to turn your exterior lighting on, don’t! The lighting visible through your windows will be sufficient notice to advertise you are open.
- If you can split lighting into areas on your switchboard then do so (have a qualified electrician do it) for instance during the winter there may be parts of your beer garden that do not get used so why light them?
- The only lights you might consider keeping aflame during daylight hours are things like menu boxes and other pictorial lighting.
- Make sure all exterior lights are extinguished at the end of the day, again make it part of your staff close down procedures. For instance if they have just finished clearing the beer garden of glasses and customers get them to turn those lights off when they come back in.
- If you have a dedicated smoking solution erected for the comfort of smokers and the area has radiant heating (electric infra-red lamps being a favourite) then make sure that when it is installed that there is a timer switch in the circuit to activate and close off the heating element or consider having a motion detector installed to control it. No point in heating the great outdoors if there is no-one out there!
My top tip for staff and lighting is to introduce the equivalent of a swear box; every time you find lights burning unnecessarily put a pound coin in a sealed jar. Tell all your staff that every pound that they see in the jar is a pound not going towards their bonus scheme! You’ll be amazed at how quickly they learn to use your electricity and lighting more judiciously as the pounds mount up. (Don’t worry about cash flow because you won’t need to keep those pounds there for long!)
Your kitchen will probably be the single largest per room consumer of water, gas and electricity within your business so making sure cooks and other kitchen staff work efficiently (but safely) will reap you big benefits.
- Make sure that all cooking and cooling equipment is regularly, cleaned, maintained and serviced. Appliances work to their maximum efficiency when not clogged up with dust, grime and dirt (and you will be keeping the EHO at bay as well!). Make sure they are all set to their correct level to carry out their function (especially fridges and freezers).
- Have a start up and close down timetable for all appliances so that they are only turned on precisely when they need to be for them to heat up for service (time all appliances to see exactly how long they need to come to heat). There is not point in having all your fans, fryers, range, grill, ovens all churning away at 10 am in the morning when the cook comes in to do prep if you don’t start service until 12 noon!
- If you serve food all day long then you will probably have a lull in the afternoon, get your cook to do any batch cooking on ranges and in ovens during that time instead of having the oven on from first thing and do try and use ovens fully loaded as this saves energy.
- If you have an afternoon break in your food service then have an afternoon close down list. Better to pay a cook an extra ½ hours pay to start things up again than the energy costs of leaving all your appliances running for 2 or 3 hours when no food service is available. Better still, do it yourself as a) you won’t need to pay the staff and b) you know that energy is only being used when required.
- Make sure your cook / chef plans their work in advance and has all frozen ingredients naturally defrosted and not force-defrosted in microwave ovens.
- Don’t cook with saucepans boiling – bring pans to the boil, add the product to be cooked, bring back to the boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer as it uses a lot less heat and is therefore more efficient. Put lids on saucepans and don’t let flames overlap the sides of saucepans on gas rings (reduce the flame size so that only the saucepans base is covered).
- Pre-wash all crockery and cutlery (preferably in cold water) and make sure that dishwashers are fully loaded as partly loaded machines are wasteful.