Posts Tagged ‘aerators’

1. Start-up, Shutdown Schedules
Not everything needs to be turned on right away when the first cook arrives. Equipment start-up schedules similar to just-in-time ordering saves energy with no investment.

2. Low flow aerators
These are potentially one of the lowest priced efficiency measures a restaurant can buy. Aerators range from .50 to a several dollars and return the investment almost instantly.

3. Pre-rinse Sprayers
At about $60, these devices pay for themselves in about a week depending on your usage and prior sprayer. Some of the newest units on the market use as little as .65 gallons per minute compared to the old units that use around 3.5 gpm. New regulations require all pre-rinse sprayers to use no more than 1.6 gpm so go as low as you can find.

4. Turbo Pots
Research from the Food Service Technology Center shows that Turbo Pots use about half as much energy to boil a pot of water compared to a standard pot. If you have a pot of water boiling all day in your kitchen these pots are a must have.

5. Thawing Meats
A little bit of organization and scheduling could save many restaurants thousands of gallons of water and hundreds of dollars a year. If you must thaw meats with running water make sure the faucet has a low-flow aerator, and turn the flow down to just enough to keep water flowing across the product – not full blast.

6. CFLs
They are simple and almost old school at this point, but CFLs save a lot of money. Today’s CFLs are cheap and high quality, but don’t buy the cheapest ones you can find. You get what you pay for. Use them in hoods, storage areas, offices, back halls and walk-in coolers.

7. Training
All the green gadgets and gizmos in the world don’t save money unless the users are using them correctly. Moreover, training staff to be conscious about the resources they are using will go much further than any piece of energy efficient equipment.

8. Recycling
Even restaurants that currently recycle should audit their garbage once in a while. More than likely, recyclables are being thrown away and potentially costing the business extra hauling fees. Recycling is a simple task, and can cut a garbage bill in half if the restaurant is not currently taking part in the practice.

9. Composting
Food waste makes up something around 50% of the volume and 75% of the weight of most full service restaurants. Implementing a composting program can be a little more involved, but like recycling it soon becomes second nature to the staff.

10. Food Waste Tracking
Before starting a composting program, start tracking the restaurant’s food waste, and make changes to reduce that waste. Whether through simple paper logs or more complex digital systems like Leanpath, food waste tracking helps chefs and management actualize their waste and make adjustments to par lists, menus or schedules.


low-flow-aeratorIn one of my last posts on water conservation I mentioned significant savings several times, but never got a chance to calculate some of those potential savings. So, here are a few of the numbers…in somewhat unscientific fashion…

First, there is not a lot of data on water use in restaurants, and the data that is available is not very detailed and varies quite a bit. What is available shows use anywhere from 900 gallons per day to well over 7000 gallons per day so its hard to say what an average would be. In addition, most of the numbers that are available tend to just give rounded numbers for an entire restaurant’s use rather than broken down to individual uses like dishwashing, hand sinks, etc. So, I’ll try to make an estimation based on general use rather than being based on total use.

Lets take the aerator idea as an example. Say a restaurant has a number of faucets all with 2.2 gallon per minute aerators installed. Over the course of the day, all the sink uses (minus the dish sink and dishwasher) add up to two hours. So every time someone washed their hands, rinsed some vegetables, filled a glass of water, or a mop bucket the total running time of the faucets added up to two hours. This is a fairly conservative estimate based on the water use data, and also assumes the restaurant did not thaw frozen product under running water, which can add over two hours of use alone.

Total water usage and cost at this establishment would then be:

120 (minutes) * 2.2 gpm = 264 gallons / 1000 = .264 kgal * $7[1] = $1.85 per day

$1.85 * 360 days a year = $666.00 per year for faucet use.

.264 kg * 360 = 95.04 kgal per year

Now lets assume they installed 1.0 gpm aerators in all the faucets. As I mentioned in the previous post, this would reduce their water consumption by 55%. However, because a certain percentage of the water use is for drinking or recipes, or other uses where an absolute amount of water is required regardless of the aerator we cannot assume a straight 55% reduction in water consumption. Based on data from restaurant water consumption reports, lets assume 35%[2] of use is non-absolute amounts. Meaning handwashing, rinsing produce and any other water use that does not need a set amount like a glass of water would. I’ll use time as the divisible factor, and 2.2 gpm for the 57% of use that is for absolute needs rather than calculate it at 1.0 gpm, and multiply it by 2.2 to get what the actual use would be.

The water use and cost with 1.0 gpm aerators would then be:

78 (minutes) * 2.2 gpm = 171.6 gallons / 1000 = .172 kgal * $7 = $1.20 per day

42 (35% of total) * 1.0 gpm = 42 gallons / 1000 = .042 kgal * $7 = $.29 per day

(1.20 + .29) * 360 days = $536.40 / year

(.172 kgal + .042 kgal) * 360 = 77.04 kgal / year

$666.00 (cost with 2.2 gpm aerators) – $536.40 (cost with 1.0 aerators) = $129.60 savings per year

So, $130 a year may not seem like a “significant” savings, but considering the amount invested (roughly $2 per aerator) the payback is huge. That is about a one-month payback period if seven aerators were replaced with no maintenance or updating needed ever. Unlike other efficiency measures, faucet aerators are an install and forget it fix. There is no other measure that is as cost effective. Basically, regardless of how one calculates the savings, or the restaurant’s daily water use low-flow aerators are a simple, low cost solution that should be used in every establishment.


[2] American Water Works Association Research Foundation, Commercial and Institutional End Uses of Water, DeOreo, William et. al., 2000


Usually when anyone starts talking about going green or general sustainability one of the first words out of their mouth is “energy.” Energy is a big thing, particularly right now. There is a huge push for green energy, we were recently smacked in the face with $4 gas prices that are sure to return, and things like solar panels are just cool. However, while energy efficiency might be sexy and a great marketing tool, water is a much more important long-term issue. We can have clean energy as long as the sun shines and the wind blows, but clean water is a finite resource and should be high priority for restaurants – if not for the environmental implications, the costs associated with water use. Fortunately, water conservation is one of the easiest green efforts.

I’ve been in a lot of different restaurants lately, and one of my main recommendations to all of them has been water conservation. Nearly every restaurant I’ve been in had a leak in at least one faucet somewhere in the facility. Some were fairly minor inconsistent drips while others were near constant flows that had to be wasting hundreds of gallons of water a day, which chalks up a significant cost very quickly. In addition to ignored leaks, not one foodservice operation had low-flow aerators on their faucets. Most had aerators that allow 2.0 to 2.2 gallons per minutes while a low-flow aerator will use anywhere from .5 to 1.5 gpm, which is considered a standard “low-flow” aerator. By replacing a single 2.2 gpm aerator with a 1.5 gpm, restaurants could save nearly 32% out of that faucet alone, 55% with a 1.0 gpm aerator and over 77% with a .5 gpm aerator.

To make matters worse, every restaurant I’ve audited lately also had at least one faucet without an aerator all together. Besides the fact that non-aerated faucets consume about 5 gpm, a faucet without any sort of screen poses a food contamination issue. Take an aerator or screen off a faucet sometime and see what they have caught: bits of plastic, rubber from gaskets, metal from the pipes, weird goo from God knows where, etc. All these things are possibility ending up in food because the majority of faucets without aerators tend to be in vegetable sinks. Why in vegetable sinks? Because kitchen workers want and need to fill buckets and sinks quickly. So rather than wait around a few minutes for a 1.5 gpm or even a 2.2 gpm faucet to fill their five gallon bucket, they take the aerator off and fill that bucket in less than a minute. It’s hard to blame them for doing this. Commercial kitchens are obviously fast paced environments, and every second counts. No one wants to wait around for a bucket of water to fill. The problem arises when that faucet is used for something other than filling a bucket, like thawing froze meat under a water stream. This is a bad practice to begin with, but even worse when the volume of water is four or five times what it could be.

How does one balance the kitchen’s needs with conservation? First, almost every faucet in the house should have a low-flow aerator installed on them, particularly hand sinks. Bathrooms and kitchen hand sinks are great places to spend a couple extra dollars and purchase aerators that use under 1.5 gpm. For sinks that have a single use like water filling stations I recommend only a screen on the faucet if and only if it is only being used for filling water carafes and not hand washing, rinsing rags, etc.

To prevent the kitchen staff from removing aerators in vegetable sinks I recommend providing them with a designated faucet for filling stock pots, buckets and the like. You may need to add an additional faucet to the vegetable sink, but the long term savings are well worth the effort. Make sure to use signage that reminds them which faucet is used for what.

Water conservation may be not a sexy marketing campaign option, but it is a simple, very cost effective sustainability measure every foodservice operation can implement. A few dollars in investment will have huge returns at the end of the year.