Food Service Energy Efficiency Toolkit


Cook line at Donatelli's Italian Restaurant in White Bear Lake
A restaurant uses lots of energy (two and a half times more than other commercial businesses).

That high usage means that there is lots of opportunity to save.

  • Use everything you buy: Energy waste, just like food waste, wastes money. Think of energy improvements as a stock pot for energy.
  • Take credit (if you want to): Energy improvements are usually invisible to the customer, unless, of course, you choose to share how much you’re saving.
  • Improved cash flow: There are many free actions and low cost actions to start with. These improvements immediately improve your bottom line, and help with cash flow for other improvements.


  1. First Steps
  2. Assess your Energy Use
  3. Resources and Organizations
  4. Case Studies

First Steps


  1. The first step to saving energy is to identify how much waste you have. Below you’ll find tools for comparing your business to other Minnesota restaurants and for identifying energy waste in your business.

  2. Don’t wait to get started. Once you know where you are wasting, you can make the easy changes right away and plan for bigger changes by getting bids, applying for rebates and/or loans, and budgeting for improvements. Most restaurants can cut their use by 20% with some at dedicated attention to the issue and some smart purchases as equipment needs to be replaced.

Assess your Energy Use

  • Energy Calculator – Use this calculator to compare your energy use with other restaurants in Minnesota. (You’ll need your energy bills from the past year).
  • 10 Minute Audit – A simple list of the easiest and most common ways to save energy in a food service business
  • Detailed Best Practices for Food Service – A tool for conducting a detailed audit of energy opportunities in a restaurant or grocery store. This tool could be used by an owner, a contractor, or an energy specialist.
  • ENERGY STAR – Energy Star offers benchmarking software for grocery stores (restaurant benchmarks are not available at this time).

Resources and Organizations

Most businesses owners need some technical support in order to accomplish all their energy efficiency goals. Utilities, knowledgeable contractors and equipment suppliers, energy auditors and online resources can be excellent sources of support.

Case Studies and Presentations

  • White Bear Lake Businesses – This case study highlights the achievements of three businesses in White Bear Lake, who participated in a city wide energy efficiency program for food service businesses.
  • Donatelli’s Homemade Italian – This business reduced their energy use over 20% demonstrating how much is possible for a typical restaurant.
  • Presentation—Saving Energy in Restaurants – This presentation walks through some of the basics of saving energy in a food service business (hover over orange icon in upper left to see speaker notes).
  • Richard Young – This provides a great summary of all the opportunities gleaned from four hour workshop presented in Minneapolis.

Minnesotans building a clean energy future


    CERTs Partners:

Minnesota Department of Commerce Division of Energy Resources University of Minnesota Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships and Extension Great Plains Institute Southwest Regional Development Commission