Heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) typically accounts for 28% of a restaurant’s energy consumption. This makes the vent hood one of the primary targets for going green and implementing energy-efficient changes to save money.
Commercial kitchen ventilation alone can consume up to 21% of the energy in a restaurant. However, it is an absolute necessity. By capturing the heat and fumes from your cooking equipment, hoods reduce the strain on your other equipment, not to mention your employees. So the hood’s operation also has a ripple effect on the efficiency of your entire establishment.
A few small changes to your hood system can save you up to 60% on ventilation costs and also improve your restaurant’s air, so you and your customers can breathe easy.
Choosing the Right Hood
Buying a new hood or retrofitting your old one is one of the biggest steps you can take to save money and energy in your commercial kitchen.
- Install a variable-speed vent. This can save you 30-50% on ventilation energy costs just by allowing you to adjust your fan speed up during busy hours and down during lull periods. Often you can retrofit your current system with variable speeds. You can also buy a system that automatically adjusts fan speed based on demand.
- Invest in side panels. Side panels lower needed exhaust rates by reducing cross drafts and encouraging the vent to draw air from the front, containing the heat and fumes from your cooking equipment.
- Buy a proximity hood. Backshelf, pass-over or eyebrow hoods need less energy to work than wall-mounted or island canopy hoods. However, proximity hoods are not adequate for appliances using solid fuel like wood or charcoal. The next best thing is a wall-mounted canopy hood.
- Consider a larger overhang. Larger overhangs in canopy hoods will capture more exhaust. A 12 to 18 inch overhang is especially effective at dealing with plume surges, such as those produced when opening a heated oven, steamer or pressure fryer.
- Look for UL listed hoods. They generally operate at a lower exhaust rate than unlisted hoods.
Rearrange and Save
Simply rearranging your kitchen can save you a lot of money and energy in the long run without costing you a penny now.
- Push your equipment back. Moving your cooking equipment as close to the wall as safely possible will increase the distance to the edge of the overhang. This reduces cross drafts and the escape of fumes and heat.
- Center heavy-duty appliances. Move broilers and open-burner ranges to the middle of the hood area to prevent the escape of fumes and heat from your cooking equipment. Place worktables and lower-duty appliances near the perimeters of the hood.
- Group together similar-duty equipment. Place similar-duty equipment under separate fans and/or hoods. Since heavier duty equipment requires higher exhaust rates and larger overhangs, this will reduce energy consumption.
By implementing these guidelines, you can simultaneously improve your hood’s effectiveness and reduce the amount your hood vent needs to work. This creates a ripple effect of savings. Not only will you reduce ventilation energy costs, you will also reduce the heat and fume levels in your restaurant, saving you customers and allowing both your other equipment and employees to work better.