Raul Dominguez is a successful Wendy’s franchise owner in south Florida. With the skyrocketing cost of energy over the last several years, bringing energy use and operational expense under control is a priority issue for Dominguez and other franchisees in the region.
Quick-serve restaurants use plenty of energy, and those located in warm climates like South Florida use even more than an average quick-serve restaurant. Restaurant chains have particular challenges to deal with, from high-temperature broilers and other cooking equipment that produce large amounts of heat, to commercial-grade refrigeration for safe food storage, to robust HVAC systems to ensure customers have a comfortable experience.
Along with several other Wendy’s franchise owners participating in a regional council, Dominguez volunteered to test various energy management strategies that might help address energy consumption, manual system overrides, and equipment monitoring and report back to the group.
Taking Control of Energy Use
Dominguez evaluated the GridPoint Energy Management System (EMS), including submetering and lighting control, for one year. Dominguez installed the GridPoint EMS system in a single test store and set parameters that determined where and how energy was to be used.
The GridPoint EMS enabled him to:
- Prevent employees from manipulating the thermostat – now set to 75 degrees vs. 70 degrees
- Turn interior and exterior lights on/off automatically, ensuring the lights are not left on overnight
- Control refrigeration units to ensure the coolers maintain the correct temperature for food
- Segment temperature zones allowing front-of-house zones to be turned off before and after hours while the kitchen is kept cool for employees
Delivering 12% Monthly Savings From Day One
The results were immediate and significant. Dominguez realized an initial energy cost reduction of 12% monthly in the test store. With such clear savings, he decided to install the system in an additional 11 locations in his network. To purchase the new systems, GridPoint directed Dominguez to a third-party firm that was able to set up a 36-month, lease-to-own contract for the equipment. With monthly lease payments of $275 and energy cost savings of approximately $500 per month, he had no upfront out-of-pocket expense and was able to pay for the equipment with his monthly energy savings. And the savings were not temporary: three years later, that original store still showed more than a 14% monthly reduction in energy use from its consumption rate before the system was installed.
What You Don’t Know Will Cost You
Within weeks of installation Dominguez was able to use the rich information from the GridPoint EMS to discover the many ways energy savings could be achieved.
In one instance, while reviewing data in GridPoint Energy Manager he noticed one store was showing a significant rise in cooler temperature late at night that lasted for an hour. The only thing it could be, he thought, was that someone was propping open the cooler door. Checking delivery records, he noticed that the spike in temperature coincided with his produce vendor’s delivery schedule. Dominguez contacted the vendor to request that the door not be propped open anymore. “How could you possibly know that?” the vendor asked. Dominguez showed them the data on the temperature levels and the vendor stopped the practice.
That’s not the only way to save on operational costs. Another major cause of the headache and unplanned expense is when an HVAC system unexpectedly fails in Florida’s hot, humid weather, requiring expensive emergency maintenance.
With submetering data on his HVAC units, Dominguez has now several times identified units that were beginning to operate outside of normal parameters, indicating pending problems that could lead to failure. With this early warning, Dominguez is able to schedule maintenance to ensure no outages occur.
With the increased efficiency possible with the GridPoint EMS, Dominguez has saved tens of thousands of dollars in energy costs across his chain to date. With his monthly energy cost savings, he realized a return on his investment within weeks of deployment.