Finding ENERGY STAR Rebates for Upgrading Your Restaurant Equipment


Energy Star Rebates

As a restaurant operator, you're all too familiar with the sometimes-outrageous electric and gas bills you need to pay to keep your kitchen running. As a matter of fact, foodservice businesses consume as much as five to seven times as much energy per square foot than other commercial spaces1.

Frugal operators have found ways to cope, keeping their equipment well-maintained and encouraging staff to run equipment only when it's being used. Still, the best way to save in the long run may be to invest in new efficient restaurant equipment for your operation.

ENERGY STAR Restaurant Equipment

Some of the biggest energy wasters are old, worn-out pieces of equipment that use energy inefficiently. We're talking poorly-insulated ovens that end up heating the kitchen nearly as much as what's baking inside, refrigerators with worn-out compressors that run twice as long as they used to, and inefficient fryers that take too long to cook food. If the barrier to upgrading your equipment has been cost, there may be ENERGY STAR rebates and incentives available to you to help foot the bill.

The ENERGY STAR program was created in 1990s by the US Environmental Protection Agency to help address growing concerns over global warming caused by carbon emissions. The program is intended to encourage the development and sale of energy-efficient consumer goods, commercial equipment, and buildings. A product earns the ENERGY STAR logo by using significantly less gas or electricity than other models in that category. Currently, ENERGY STAR-qualified restaurant equipment exists in several categories, including steamers, griddles, ovens, fryers, hot holding cabinets, ice makers, dishwashers, and solid door refrigeration.

To help in the fight against pollution and global warming, many organizations in the United States have begun offering energy efficiency incentives to restaurant owners to encourage them to invest in ENERGY STAR certified equipment. Those incentives come in a number of forms and they're offered by a diverse range of organizations, from governments to energy companies.

ENERGY STAR Rebates & Incentives

Some incentives are offered as cash rebates in specific dollar amounts when businesses purchase certain types of equipment. For example:

  • Many of our neighbors in the Southeast may qualify for TVA's EnergyRight Solutions for Business rebate program when they invest in certain categories of energy-efficient cooking equipment .
  • The District of Columbia Sustainable Energy Utility sponsors a similar program, offering cash rebates for certain types of kitchen equipment purchased by business owners in D.C.
  • Restaurant owners in the Midwest should be aware that Xcel Energy provides rebates for a number of ENERGY STAR commercial kitchen purchases to their customers in Minnesota, Colorado, Michigan, and Wisconsin. Similar incentives are available in Northeastern states Maryland and Vermont.
  • California is the land of milk and honey for ENERGY STAR rebates. Pacific Electric and Gas customers are eligible for some of the most attractive rebates and incentives in the country through their Food Service Technology Center. Many restaurant owners are eligible for 0% interest loans of up to $100,000 dollars for purchasing energy-efficient equipment. Cash rebates are available for up to $1,000 dollars on certain pieces of equipment.
  • Business owners in Southern California may benefit from Southern California Edison's Energy Efficient Express Solutions, which offers rebates for energy-saving upgrades to specific types of kitchen and building equipment. SCE's customers may also be eligible for custom incentives that are tailored to their unique situation through the Energy Efficiency Customized Solutions, through which rebate amounts are determined by the amount of energy a business saves over a 12-month period when they make green upgrades.

ENERGY STAR Refrigerator Rebates

It's not just cooking equipment that qualifies for ENERGY STAR rebates. Refrigeration-specific rebates are also common and virtually every foodservice operation has some type of commercial refrigeration at work.

  • Tucson Electric Power in Arizona offers rebates to qualifying customers to offset the purchase of ENERGY STAR commercial refrigeration equipment for equipment upgrades as well as equipment for new construction projects.
  • Customers of Rocky Mountain Power in Idaho, Utah, and Wyoming may be eligible for their wattsmart Business program that provides incentives for refrigeration and some types of cooking equipment.

The incentives available to your business may not be limited to kitchen equipment. Some organizations offer rebates for efficient HVAC equipment, too.

  • A number of organizations in North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, and Iowa participate in the Bright Energy Solutions Program, which incentivizes businesses to upgrade their HVAC and other equipment to energy-saving models.
  • On the East Coast, small business owners in Pennsylvania may be eligible for PGW EnergySense rebates of up to $1,500 dollars for a new, energy-efficient furnace or boiler.
  • New Jersey's Direct Install program offers incentives that can cover up to 70 percent of the cost of qualifying green upgrades.
  • Businesses in Florida may be eligible for incentives from Florida Power and Light to help pay for energy-efficient HVAC equipment, lighting, and a number of other upgrades.
  • Georgia Power offers similar incentives to their customers who upgrade their HVAC or warewashing equipment.

State and local governments often provide loans with attractive terms to help business owners get the equipment they need into their kitchens quicker so they can start saving money right away.

  • Tennessee's Pathway Lending Loan, provides five year loans at rates of two percent.
  • Similarly, business owners in Alabama are eligible to apply for the AlabamaSAVES low-interest loan program with interest rates as low as one percent.

These are just a few of the hundreds of energy-efficiency rebate programs available across the country which are being updated constantly. Check out the DSIRE database from the NC Clean Energy Technology Center to search for rebates eligible to your business. You can filter the results by state and by the type of technology that the rebate applies to. The latter includes a filter for commercial cooking equipment and one for commercial refrigeration equipment.

[1]"ENERGY STAR Guide for Restaurants". EPA. Accessed: 23 April 2015.