How Much Energy Does a Restaurant Use?

Restaurants play a vital role in our lives, serving as gathering places where we indulge in delicious meals and create lasting memories. However, behind the scenes, these culinary hubs require a significant amount of energy to operate smoothly. Delving into the intriguing world of restaurant energy consumption, we can analyze the various factors that contribute to substantial energy usage. 

According to DTE Energy, “Quick-service restaurants (QSRs) are some of the most energy-intensive buildings in the US. They use an average of 81 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity and 174,000 Btu of natural gas per square foot each year. In a typical QSR, refrigeration, lighting, and cooling make up about 55% of total energy use, making those systems the best targets for energy savings.” (DTE Energy)¹. To understand what this looks like in dollars, consider a McDonald’s in California: the average McDonald’s is 4,500 square feet, according to Statista. Based on the state’s average electric bill rate of 30¢ per kWh, that’s an annual electricity spend of a whopping $109,350.² energy usage in a QSR restaurant comes from extended operating hours, intensive kitchen operations, HVAC systems, and equipment upgrades and maintenance. 

Many QSRs operate in the evenings and even throughout the night. This means their lighting, heating, ventilation, air conditioning (HVAC) systems and kitchen equipment need to remain operational for longer periods. The continuous operation of these systems leads to increased energy consumption compared to establishments with shorter operating hours. Appliances, such as grills, fryers, ovens, and refrigeration units require a significant amount of energy to power if they are continuously running during all hours of operation. 

Maintaining a comfortable indoor environment for both customers and staff is also crucial.  As a result, QSRs often require larger and more powerful HVAC systems due to the constant flow of customers, frequent opening and closing of doors, and the heat generated from cooking equipment. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) also recently increased the minimum efficiency standards for central air conditioners by 15 percent.³

The industry is continuing to recognize the importance of energy efficiency and sustainability. By investing in energy-efficient equipment, implementing intelligent controls, and promoting energy-saving practices, QSRs can significantly reduce their environmental footprint and operating costs. Energybox’s technology is designed to track energy consumption levels every ten minutes. This includes tracking cooler and freezer temperatures, identifying areas of energy waste, and monitoring other equipment usage in real-time. This ensures that our solutions are proactively reducing the amount of energy usage in order to keep your restaurant energy efficient and sustainable.



¹ QSR Magazine, How Quick-Service Restaurants Can Cut Energy Costs 

² QSR Web, How Energy Mgmt Strategies Beat Inflation

³ US Department of Energy, Appliance and Equipment Standards Rulemakings and Notices