Spring arrives with wildly changing temperatures and at least one snowfall when we least expect it. With the unpredictable weather we’ve experienced this year, it’s a clear reminder of how important it is to preserve and maintain our natural environment.
Canada meets a third of its entire energy need with natural gas, a safe and versatile resource that creates less waste and pollution than other conventional carbon energy sources. It’s also generally cheaper for consumers than electricity or oil. But base cost aside, lowering energy use is vital to ensuring long-term sustainability for both the planet and your bottom line.
Reducing your use of natural gas will decrease harmful emissions, as well as trim your energy cost and improve your operating performance. Since the federal carbon pricing program (the new carbon charge applied to fossil fuels sold in Ontario) began on April 1, 2019, you’ll want to take advantage of every opportunity to save.
The Enbridge Smart Savings website provides sector-specific suggestions for foodservice operators who want to lower their energy costs. Take their quick online audit, MyEnergyXpert to get a sense of where your current needs and usage, so you can diagnose the best methods to save energy and improve your bottom line and even discover how to earn additional financial incentives.
Enbridge’s RunitRight Program can help you identify low- or no-cost ways to reduce your natural gas energy usage and save money. Remember, not all changes have to be major investments; small steps can produce big results.
Here are 10 tips to help you save on gas:
1. Take advantage of routine maintenance to save both energy and money
HVAC usually accounts for the largest portion of your energy use. Make sure windows and joins are well-caulked, and that your insulation is up to code. Adequate insulation alone can provide a drop in energy cost of up to five per cent.
2. Programmable thermostats are an easy way to control your energy use
Use them to drop (winter) or raise (summer) the ambient temperature when the space is not in use. Modern thermostats can even adjust temperatures in specific areas as well as at specific times, so rooms not in use don’t drain the grid or your pocket.
3. Properly maintain your system
Have your furnace inspected by qualified technicians, and change the filters regularly (every three to six months). Clear any plants or brush away from outdoor units. Have your ducts checked for leaks and ensure all vents are fully unblocked by furniture or rugs. A healthy system is more efficient and will use less gas.
4. Keep it cool
When it comes to cooling, turn off unneeded lights, and use dimmers where possible. LED bulbs use less energy and produce less heat. Shades and awnings can help limit the use of AC. Ceiling fans move cool air throughout the space, which will allow you to set the ambient temperature marginally higher. Keep doors and windows closed as much as possible in both summer and winter.
5. Lower the temperature of your water heater
Heating water is usually the second largest use of energy, up to approximately 19 per cent of your bill. Immediately repair any water leaks: even small drips can quickly rack up energy usage.
6. Conserve hot water whenever and wherever possible
Laundry can be washed in cold water. Use low-flow spray valves and faucet aerators. Ensure dishwashers are fully loaded, and consider a high-pressure hot water nozzle for pre-washing.
7. Small decisions in the kitchen can add up to real savings
Choose the smallest pan available and use lids for faster cooking. Use the microwave whenever possible. Keep your range tops in prime condition. Make sure the burner heads are clean at all times, and maximize flame by adjusting the air flow shutters until each flame burns steady and blue.
8. Lower your freezer temperature
Based on up-to-date evidence, foodservice operators are now allowed to set freezers to -15 C (instead of -18 C) with no lessening of food safety. Those three degrees can make a substantial difference on your bill.
9. Use ENERGY STAR certified appliances
From the largest pieces of equipment like your furnace, fryer, broiler and cooler, to your hot water heater, dishwasher, steamer and patio heater, right down to your microwave, blender and toaster, your appliances should all be ENERGY STAR certified. If you plan to purchase, renovate, or install natural gas equipment, Enbridge’s Fixed Incentive Program can help offset the expense involved.
10. Investigate the Commercial Custom Retrofit Program by Enbridge
This program offers users a free audit by an energy solutions consultant to help you identify energy efficiencies that will save natural gas. The program also offers financial incentives to implement the recommendations.
Enbridge is currently working with the City of Toronto to make natural gas an even more sustainable choice. New biogas equipment being installed at the Dufferin Organics Processing Facility will soon turn green bin organic waste into renewable natural gas (RNG). Enough RNG will be added to the city grid to fuel the fleet of organic collection trucks. Eventually, the trucks will be powered by they very waste they pick up.
Similarly, be sure include your energy-saving changes and choices in your story. Today’s customers are interested in energy conservation and environmental preservation. They prefer to support responsible businesses that make renewal and sustainability their goal, like yours.