How to Deal with the Summer Heat – Small Business Edition with Kathy Hollinger of the Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington

The official first day of summer is coming up this Sunday, and after a long year, we are all ready for it. According to a recent Fortune article, more than 110,000 eating establishments closed throughout 2020*. Despite a tremendously difficult year, it's been so great to see people enjoying meals at restaurants again. As we head into the summer, we felt it was essential to share some information on how restaurant owners can save energy and money during the busy summer season.


Today, we will be hearing from Kathy Hollinger, executive director at the Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington.

As the first day of summer is coming up on Sunday, what are some pieces of advice you can give to restaurant owners regarding energy saving practices as we move into the really hot summer months?

There are many ways restaurants can reinvent their current operations to include energy-saving practices. One of the most common practices is installing energy-efficient LED lighting throughout the restaurant. Restaurants can also upgrade to ENERGY STAR®-certified equipment, including refrigerators, freezers, dishwashers, fryers, HVAC systems, and other appliances. Other less common yet incredibly innovative ways we have seen restaurants take steps to reduce energy usage are installing solar panels on their rooftops, implementing green roofs for storm water control, and growing their own produce. All of these measures trim energy costs and reduce energy consumption.

In regards to the COVID-19 pandemic, restaurants have had a tough year. How have you continued to encourage your clients to reduce energy usage?

It has been a tough year for restaurants in so many ways - especially financially. First and foremost, reducing energy usage is crucial to helping our environment. On top of that, a reduction in energy usage can reduce expenses for businesses. Start small, with something such as switching to LED lighting. Eventually, upgrade your appliances, consider implementing solar panels or green roofs - and watch the positive changes unfold.

During the pandemic months when restaurants were fully shut down for service, in the beginning, we shared resources and checklists on how to close down the restaurant for the temporary shutdown properly. Several of these tips were also rooted in energy conservation, including emptying all refrigeration units and unplugging and leaving doors open. We also advised restaurants to set thermostats to power-saving mode without shutting off the system completely. And finally, the list included advice to set tankless water heaters to off, turn off the water circulator pump, shut off any gas supply and turn off all gas to kitchen equipment.

What is one piece of information you wish all restaurant owners knew in regards to saving energy?

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, restaurants use about 2.5 times more energy per square foot than other commercial buildings and waste more energy than a typical business - as much as $8 billion in energy every year. Implementing energy-saving practices into your operations will help your business save thousands - if not tens of thousands - of dollars each year. You are helping the environment and saving dollars. It’s a win-win.