As these pie charts show, a typical restaurant's electric use is split pretty evenly between lighting (30%), refrigeration (26%), and space conditioning (HVAC 23%). The remaining 21% is consumed by food service equipment, water heating, and miscellaneous other uses.
Restaurants that use natural gas use the majority for cooking load (60%), then space heating (22%), and finally water heating (18%). A small improvement in a large energy user will probably create more savings than a large improvement to a small energy using system. So it just makes good sense to focus first on the lighting, refrigeration and space conditioning for electric improvements and the cooking equipment, space and water heating for gas improvements.
One tip for getting a feel for the facility energy use is based upon its square footage. As you can see in the table below, these are some ball park numbers for what annual energy costs might be for restaurants of various sizes. Furthermore, the table gives a feel for how much savings potential might be in two systems if 20% savings were achieved.
Take a moment to think about the impact you can make. A small restaurant in the 5,000 sq. ft. range might spend $20,000 annually on energy. If there were a project that could cut their lighting portion of their energy budgets by 20%, they could save about $900 each year. A larger restaurant in the 15,000 sq. ft. range spending $60,000 annually on energy could have $2,000 to $3,000 savings from a similar measure. In many cases, these measures have just a one or two year payback, so it's worth investigating.
That savings keeps on coming in future years and can be used to make the restaurant more profitable and successful. Successful restaurants are more likely to expand or open new locations, so you are helping not only the owners, but the community and your company as well.