Office kitchens are a key gathering place in any business. They're where we recap the latest on our favourite shows, gather for lunches and special events, and get those much-needed caffeine fixes.
But like their counterparts in our homes, office kitchens can require a lot of energy. Here are a few ways to make your office kitchen more efficient.
There's a good chance your team only needs a fridge, and not a freezer. If that's the case, consider getting a fridge without a built-in freezer to save.
One large fridge is also more efficient than two that are partially empty. And mini fridges can also use more power than you'd think, so consider putting that milk and cream in the larger fridge instead of using multiple smaller fridges. If your teams do like their mini fridges, encourage them to get ENERGY STAR®-certified models, which are more efficient than other models.
Remember to keep your fridge well ventilated, too. Having a fridge inset within cabinets might seem like a good design idea, but it'll take more energy to keep food cool, since the cabinets trap heat removed from the fridge making it less efficient.
Instead of purchasing a vending machine, consider simply storing drinks in the fridge. If you already have a machine, equip it with a vending miser, a small plug-and-play device that reduces the amount of energy the machine uses. If it's possible to disconnect the machine's lighting, this will lessen the cooling load it needs.
Remember to regularly maintain your fridge's coils.
Just as at home, certain appliances in your office kitchen might be using phantom power, or standby power. Those clocks on the microwave, toaster oven, or coffee maker are actually using up energy in the background.
Try using power bars to cut back on standby power you're not even using. You can also designate an employee to unplug appliances like toaster ovens and microwaves at the end of the day or over the weekend.
Caffeine is a big draw to the office kitchen.
Most coffee makers and kettles use about 1,000 to 1,500 watts, so timing and how many people you're serving is key. Single-serve machines are best for small batches, because they only run for a short period.
But those machines also tend to have a high phantom power load, meaning they use energy even when they're only in standby mode. Some models can use up to 15 watts just in standby mode. To avoid that, keep the machine on a power bar or unplug it when it's not being used. Some programmable drip coffee makers can also draw phantom power, so it's best to keep all small appliances on power bars.
If your team tends to brew bigger batches at a time, look out for coffee makers with removable insulated carafes, rather than glass pots, so you can avoid using energy to keep coffee hot.
If your team is small, consider encouraging everyone to use French presses to make their coffee. Using an electric kettle to boil a large amount of water for a coffee press is more energy efficient than both single-serve and drip coffee makers.
Office kitchens often have people running in and out. Use the right window coverings to optimize natural light and keep the kitchen cool during hot summer days.
Another simple idea: try installing motion sensors just for the lighting, so the lights don't need to be on all the time.
And if you haven't yet, make the switch to LED light bulbs in the office kitchen to keep it more energy efficient. The Small Business Lighting program has great incentives for energy-efficient lighting.
Create a weekly challenge for your team, such as reducing their regular electricity usage by 10 per cent. Alternatively, ask for weekly volunteers to make sure appliances are unplugged and lights are turned off and reward them for their help.