QSRs and the Science of Comfort

2019-10-01T08:02:21+00:00September 30th, 2019|Article|

As the owner of a quick-service restaurant (QSR), you know that every detail counts in running a successful business.

However, one simple detail that tends to get overlooked is setting the thermostat correctly inside locations. It’s often the case that QSR owners and managers will simply guess what a comfortable temperature setting is for patrons and staff.

The reality is many QSR operators set temperatures in their stores that are much lower or higher than they should be. These temperature settings may not only be uncomfortable for customers and staff, but they also needlessly add hundreds of dollars to monthly energy bills.

The numbers behind energy waste

Reducing wasted energy in your QSR is no joke:

  • A typical location is 3,500 square feet and consumes 450,000 kilowatt hours (kWh) of energy annually. That’s up to 50 times the energy you use at home.
  • Up to 30% of a restaurant’s total energy goes to waste. That’s enough energy to power 125,000 cell phones for a year.
  • In the U.S., the average cost of energy is US $0.13 per kWh nationally. Then there are peak demand charges in addition to the electricity cost per kWh. In states like California, New York and Massachusetts, both the kWh rate and demand charges can be significantly higher than the national average.
  • This means a QSR might spend US $15,000 or much more on energy every year than it needs to.

Fortunately, there is a science to indoor climate comfort.  And it tells an interesting tale.

The science behind comfort

Studies show that many QSR owners operate on the assumption that people are most comfortable within a very narrow range of temperatures, somewhere between 68°–72°F (20°-22°C).

It turns out this assumption is not true. In one research study from the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE), keeping temperatures within a narrow range not only results in higher heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) energy costs, it does nothing to make building occupants more comfortable!

In the ASHRAE study, researchers found that commercial buildings could increase the cooling setpoint of 72°F (22°C) to 77°F (25°C), resulting in an average reduction of 29% in HVAC cooling energy used without any loss in occupant comfort satisfaction. The study also found that reducing the heating setpoint of 70°F (21°C) to 68°F (20°C) saved an average of 34% of terminal heating energy, also without any decrease in occupant comfort.

Optimizing comfort while saving energy

Through scientific studies such as these, you can see it’s possible to have the best of all worlds – happy and comfortable customers, a more productive team, and lower energy bills.

The best way to get started is to determine the optimum range of temperatures for your specific location – every building and business is unique.  QSR owners should start with an energy audit of every location conducted by knowledgeable professionals. This involves an evaluation of the building’s ability to maintain its indoor climate as well as the installation of a “smart” thermostat and sensors.

These devices can measure a variety of variables, including space temperatures, outdoor weather and relative humidity, occupancy levels, HVAC unit efficiency, the velocity of air moving throughout the space, and more.  The data can then be used to determine where energy is being wasted.

With detailed data insights and guidance from scientific research, adjustments can then be implemented using advanced technologies that will continuously maximize a restaurant’s energy efficiency and consistently save you money.

Are you interested? We can help! Our AssetCare™️ team brings decades of experience and cutting-edge technology, including artificial intelligence (“AI”) and analytics to make commercial spaces like yours more comfortable and energy-efficient. Every day, our team works with thousands of building owners and operators for some of the world’s top QSR and retail brands.

Contact us today to schedule a free energy consultation.