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Reducing Water Consumption in a Commercial Kitchen

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Because foodservice and food retail operations consume a large amount of water, foodservice professionals are becoming increasingly aware of the amount of water they use—and the price tag attached to such consumption. As such consciousness rises, the equipment developed and used to conserve water becomes increasingly important. In addition, there are also more government regulations on water and energy consumption. In particular, the foodservice industry consumes a significant amount of hot water for sanitation reasons, further raising the usage of energy.

For this reason, the technology developed to conserve water in many cases also serves as an energy saver. Fortunately, a number of water-saving technological advances decrease not only the amount of water used in a commercial kitchen but also the amount of energy consumed.

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Efficient Commercial Pre-Rinse Spray Valves (PRSVs)

Pre-rinse sprayers can consume nearly one-third of all water used in a restaurant. Prior to Jan. 1, 2006, spray valves had flow rates ranging from four to six gallons per minute (gpm). The U.S. Energy Policy Act of 2005 required that all new pre-rinse valves discharge hot water at a rate no greater than 1.6 gpm. Since this government regulation was set, manufacturers have worked to produce low-flow valves that help foodservice professionals decrease their water usage. The newly manufactured valves combine a higher water velocity and an effective spray pattern to reduce the amount of water used.

According to Partners for a Clean Environment (PACE), an efficient PRSV can save an average of 156 gallons of water per day, saving an average of 45 percent of rinse water daily. Additionally, these valves can save in utility costs by decreasing, on average, .92 therms per day. There are a number of manufacturers that market efficient spray valves that have been tested by the Food Service Technology Center including Fisher Manufacturing, T&S Brass and Niagara Conservation.

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Reducing Water and Energy Use with Commercial Warewashers

In a typical commercial kitchen, PRSVs and commercial warewashers combined consume the most amount of water. The extensive use of hot water in warewashers significantly increases operating costs due to the large amount of energy needed to heat the water to keep the water temperature at the proper level for sanitation. With the increased amount of emphasis on energy use, some warewasher manufacturers have brought to market washers that are both energy and water efficient.

Hobart’s ENERGY STAR® qualified CLe conveyor-type warewasher uses the Hobart-exclusive patented Opti-Rinse™ technology that provides up to 50 percent rinse water and energy saving. The key to the Opti-Rinse system is the larger drops that are created and the drastic improvement in heat transfer they provide. Additionally, the CLe’s compact size contributes to its reduced carbon footprint. Moreover, the tanks are deep and narrow, thus creating a smaller surface area to help maintain water temperature and reduce energy. The deep tank design also requires fewer refills, saving water.

Hobart’s Opti-Rinse technology on the Hobart FT900 flight-type warewashers have a final rinse flow rate of 132 gallons per hour, providing up to 70 percent less final rinse water and energy. The result is a more uniform coverage due to a stream of water moving in a rapid back-and-forth motion at 30 times per second. Additionally, Hobart’s FT900 offers an optional Energy Recovery system that takes advantage of the heat the machine already generates and recycles it to preheat the incoming water supply, resulting in an energy saving of 16 percent, or approximately $3,200 per year. The Energy Recovery system captures escaping heat and steam from the exhaust air and uses heat exchangers to recycle it into energy. This energy is used to preheat the incoming water supply before it enters the booster heater. The cold ground temperature water passes through a coil positioned directly in line with the machine’s exhaust system to capture energy from the exhaust air to elevate the temperature of the water.

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Reducing Water Usage of Steamers

Steam cookers help foodservice professionals cook food faster. An ENERGY STAR qualified steam cooker can have significant benefits, as ENERGY STAR qualified steam cookers save 90 percent or more water over models that are not ENERGY STAR qualified. ENERGY STAR estimates that, on average, qualified models use two gallons of water per hour for ENERGY STAR qualified steam cookers versus 25 to 35 gallons of water per hour used for non-qualified models.