School kitchens are a major energy consumption area. When you meet with the kitchen staff you could discuss the following actions to help save money and energy:
- When do they switch on ovens and hobs? Most modern catering equipment reaches cooking temperatures quickly. Discuss labelling equipment with its preheat time and encourage staff to switch on only when required
- Do they ever use ovens or hobs to heat the kitchen? They should avoid using kitchen equipment to warm the space – the school’s heating system should do this effectively. If it does not, find out why.
- Do they switch off ovens, grills, fryers and hobs immediately after use?
- Do they use lids on saucepans?
- Do they use hot plates for keeping food warm? If so, when are these switched on and off, and how long do they take to warm up?
- Do they always close fridge and freezer doors?
- How often are freezers defrosted? Freezers should be defrosted regularly to save energy and prolong equipment lifetime
- Do they switch off other kitchen equipment, lights and extraction fans when they are not being used?
- Does the dishwasher have an eco-cycle? Do they use it? If not, why not?
- Do they use sterilisers? If so, how do these operate? Open boiling water steriliser systems are dangerous and wasteful of energy.
Compare the responses received with the Energy Sparks usage charts. Can you see the changes in energy use as kitchen appliance are switched on and off?
Refrigerators and freezers consume significant amounts of energy as they are on 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Regular maintenance checks are important as is careful monitoring of consumption. Suggest the following actions to make sure refrigerators are as efficient as possible:
• Position fridges/freezers away from heat sources (such as cookers)
• Set the thermostat at the right level for the fridge’s contents. Settings may need adjustment when the fridge is empty. Note that freezers operate more efficiently when full
• Check the seals are intact so cold air is not escaping
• Encourage students and staff not to open doors unnecessarily
• Defrost regularly
• Turn off fridges during holiday periods, where appropriate. If it is not possible to switch off all fridges, consolidate the contents of fridges so that some can be turned off.
After your meeting feedback results to the School Business Manager and Head Teacher to create an overall picture of the school kitchen’s energy use, and any improvements that could be made.