The bakery industry is notoriously energy-intensive. Alongside energy needs such as lighting and heat, bakeries require tools including power ovens, mixers, fridges and freezers. The end result is often energy bills and shrinking profit margins due to energy prices rising.
It’s important that bakers begin to assess how much energy they use and create steps to become more efficient. By doing this, not only can they improve their bottom line, but they can also make their businesses more sustainable —reducing their impact on the environment.
There is indeed a lot to be done to save energy in bakeries. While the changes may seem small, the combined results can be huge. In fact, if a business cuts its energy use by 20%, this could represent the same benefit as a 5% increase in sales. So, it really does pay to pay attention to energy waste.
Ways to become energy efficient include equipment changes, tweaking operations and finding the areas in which energy is being unnecessarily lost. Gas mains supplier, Flogas, has put together its top tips for UK bakeries to help them save energy and reap the financial and environmental rewards.
Know your energy usage
Don’t be unsure about the amount of energy you are using. The first step to managing your energy is to know how much gas and electricity your bakery uses each year. Only then can you see where efficiencies can be made. Some points of energy waste may seem obvious, such as inefficient equipment, whereas others might be out of sight. Smart meters, for example, will show where your biggest energy expenditures are in real time. Once you have a clear picture, you can then make an informed energy reduction plan for maximum impact.
Do regular checks
It’s important to routinely check your equipment. For example, if your freezer coils get dirty, that could impact energy use by as much as 50%. So, regular cleaning will help ensure maximum efficiency.
Similarly, keep an eye out for leaky sinks and dishwashers. These could be costing you a fortune without you realising. Regular checks mean you can avoid letting valuable water (and money) drip away. It’s also worth making sure that your heating system is on your checklist. Heating costs can increase by 30% or more if the boiler is poorly operated or maintained.
Make small changes
Make sure your staff are on board with your changes. For example, create a list of equipment that can be switched off fully after hours (or set to timers) and make sure people get into good energy-use habits.
Ask your members of staff to help check if there is heat is being unnecessarily wasted and get them to flag any cold draughts. Or check that windows aren’t being left open during the heating season and turn down the thermostat, instead.
Invest in energy efficient equipment
A positive impact on your operating expenses is automatically had if you have energy efficient machines and appliances. Baking is typically the most energy intensive process in the production of baked goods, so an efficient oven is likely to deliver some of the biggest savings.
Another huge impact could be your choice of lighting. For example, efficient LEDs use around 80% less electricity than standard bulbs and provide a long lifespan of around 50,000 hours. The Carbon Trust has a Green Business Fund, providing independent advice and procurement support for small-medium-sized business looking to make energy-saving equipment purchases.
Negotiate a better energy deal
Make sure you don’t just sign up to a deal and then ignore it. Lots of utility companies will lure you in with an unmissable deal in year one, then hike their prices in the following years — or put you on a more expensive variable rate once your fixed price deal ends. When it’s time to renew, make sure you’ve researched the best options. If there’s a better offer on the table, take it. For example, you might opt for an extended fixed-term contract to future proof your bakery from price rises.
Name: Nicky Bannister, Head of Flogas Energy.