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Efforts bakeries make to conserve energy don’t just benefit the environment. A 20 percent energy reduction can translate to an extra 1 percent of profit, according to National Grid.
There are big changes bakeries can make, including swapping over to LED lights and rethinking sourcing, but monitoring everyday items can make a significant difference, too.
Bakery owners can set a few calendar reminders and use this checklist to regularly audit their businesses’ energy use.
Change HVAC filters. HVAC systems consume the second-largest amount of energy in commercial restaurants, according to Energy Star, so they offer significant savings potential. “When you shake the filter, dust shouldn't fall off of it,” says Jeffrey Clark, director of the National Restaurant Association’s Conserve program.
Check freezers. Extremely dirty coils can increase a freezer or refrigerator’s energy use by 50 percent, according to Clark.
Stop water leaks. Bakeries can save $1,000 annually by tightening up dripping sinks, mop stations and dishwashing machines, according to Energy Star.
Examine overall energy use. Reducing an electric combination oven’s idle time by just two hours a day, for example, can save up to $800 a year; turning dipper wells down and making sure they’re off when closed can save $1,500 annually.
Clark recommends reviewing gas, electric and water bills at least quarterly to confirm if any higher usage corresponds with an increase in orders. “If there’s a weird electricity spike, maybe you need to work with the staff to make sure everything is shut off at the appropriate time,” he says.
Tweak the temperature. Each 1-degree thermostat adjustment saves up to 5 percent on heating and cooling, according to the Environmental Law & Policy Center advocacy organization.
Plan for future green practices. West Town Bakery in Chicago typically slows down in November, partially due to a decline in wholesale orders, many of which come from schools.
Business often doesn't pick up again until mid-January, so the bakery uses the downtime to revisit operations. For example, West Town may look at potential inefficiencies in delivery routes or the way certain recipes are scaled.
“During this time of year, we are able to take a step back and research new ways to increase quality or lower costs,” says co-owner Scott Weiner. “When it's a little slower, we can really take our time and look for ways to perfect our processes.”