I don’t know about you but every time I get one of those envelopes from the gas or electricity company I get the shudders. I know for a fact that the bill is going to be expensive and more than it should be.

When I was a kid I was taught that you must always save power wherever possible, not because we were poor but because it was a way of life and I had to be educated in the ways of not being wasteful. So here I am as an adult passing the message on to my staff and to my teenage children who are absolute classics at leaving every light on in the house.

It was about twelve years ago that it first hit me just how much power staff were wasting on a daily basis. It was in a large restaurant with a seating capacity of 340 and because it had two levels it had two kitchens. After the initial period of trying to get the floor staff out of some bad habits, a legacy of the previous owners (this is another story), I went to work checking on how things were being run in the kitchens.

This particular morning I walked into the kitchen about 8am where one of the chefs and a 2nd year apprentice were working, on the stove was a large pot of water boiling away, the deep fryer was also powering. I went upstairs and low and behold exactly the same thing there too. I asked the chef what the pot of boiling water was for and why were the fryers on, he replied that it was a direction from the head chef who had instructed the first apprentice on duty to organise this, the pot being for pasta at lunchtime even though we were four hours from lunch, the fryer was on only to cook hash browns for breakfast, I explained these could be easily cooked on the hotplate. I did some calculations and as the restaurant was trading 363 days a year they were wasting over 1250 hours of gas usage, now work that out.

At the front of house the same thing was happening. I arrived there one night after the restaurant had closed and all the customers had left only to find the staff cleaning up with the restaurant lit up like a Christmas tree, I let them know that the restaurant could be cleaned with just a third of the lights on.

This all might seem a bit pedantic and you might think it is not happening to you but in the last twelve years I have seen similar things going on in many restaurants and the common denominator in all cases is that the people using the power are not the people paying for it. I am sure you know what a burden large power bills are to your business but they can be kept under control with some simple education. So remember, “if the lights are on be sure there is somebody home”.

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