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DEFRA Catering Sector

A case study on catering kitchen energy reduction. Simple measures to reduce energy in a small catering kitchen can be found at the base of this page.

Refrigerated Commercial Service Cabinets (CSCs) in the UK are estimated to consume 5,584 GWh of energy per year. CSCs are used to store food and/or drink in catering establishments. There are approximately 500,000 units in use in the UK. The vast majority of the cabinets sold are integral cabinets (with self contained refrigeration systems) but remote units (where the refrigeration system is separate from the cabinet) are also available.

The fundamental design of commercial service cabinets has changed little over the past 20 years however incremental changes have occurred that have improved their efficiency. Caterers still tend to base their purchase on the initial cost of a cabinet rather than the total cost over the life of the cabinet. Consequently, UK manufacturers have difficulty in selling energy efficient cabinets which tend to use higher cost components. Customers buy imported cabinets that have a low initial cost but higher energy consumption in use.

Retail refrigeration sectoral reportSaving energy in catering and kitchen refrigeration

Frozen CSCs offer the greatest potential for energy saving since better options are readily available. In a commercial kitchen frozen cabinets are usually only opened at the beginning and end of a day. Therefore a chest freezer is a more efficient option that would not have a great influence on the usability of the cabinet.

Schemes, such as the Enhanced Capital Allowance (ECA) are encouraging manufacturers to implement DC fans and other energy saving features. Trials have shown that there is a large variation between the most, and least, efficient cabinets and there is considerable potential to save energy using currently available technologies. However, there is considerable lack of data on performance of cabinets in use. Improved understanding of requirements in commercial kitchens would enable cabinets to be designed and optimised for usage.

Case study: Simple measures to reduce energy in a small catering kitchen

The mean daily energy consumption data for five different refrigeration systems under “actual use” conditions in a working catering kitchen was measured. Values of energy consumption varied widely from a minimum of 3.9 kWh over 24 h for an ice cream freezer to a maximum of 12.7 kWh over 24 h for an upright freezer (commercial service cabinet) depending on use and design. Simple low cost energy reduction measures were evaluated; cleaning the condenser heat exchanger and resetting the thermostat to a sensible value achieved cumulative energy savings of 8% and 11% respectively.

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Catering kitchen energy reduction case study

Contact FRPERC

Food Refrigeration and Process Engineering Research Centre (FRPERC), Grimsby Institute (GIFHE), Nuns Corner Campus, Laceby Road, Grimsby, North East Lincolnshire. DN34 5BQ. UK.

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