Keeping The Kitchen Cool: Methods For Improving AC Efficiency In Your Restaurant

Air conditioning is an essential part of keeping your employees comfortable and for pleasing diners when they come to dine at your establishment. However, with the cooking and the heat of summer, your system has to work harder than ever, driving up indoor kitchen temperatures despite your cooling system while simultaneously driving up your operating costs. Here are some strategies you can employ to help your air conditioning along during the hottest days of the year.

Install air curtains

One of the ways you can help your kitchen stay cool is by improving air flow with open doors to allow cool air from the dining room to flow into the kitchen and then out an open door or window. Propping open a door, however, often lets flies and other insects into the kitchen, which is less than desirable for making food. Air curtains are made from heavy duty fans installed near or around the frame of exterior doors that blow outwards. This moves warm kitchen air out and keeps bugs from flying in. This method is especially great for optimizing evaporative cooling methods in your restaurant.

Use a dehumidifier

Humidity in the kitchen makes the heat worse. Water has a high heat capacity, which means it takes more energy to reduce the temperature of air with a high moisture content. Cooking food increases humidity exponentially, so if you don't have a dehumidifier running in your restaurant, contact a HVAC company about pairing one with your air conditioner to help make a dent in the cooking and summer heat. 

Invest in excellent stove top venting.

Cooking over an open flame can raise kitchen temperatures quickly, but one way to keep the heat contained is to have strong fume hoods that direct steam up and out, instead of allowing it to spread over the restaurant. For other heat sources, like grill tops and fryers, have ceiling fans that pull the heat up and direct it out through the HVAC system. The better your ventilation, the cooler your kitchen will be. This is especially a problem in older restaurants, so have your system checked and updated. 

Give the illusion of cold.

While this won't directly help your AC operate better, it will help your customers believe that your restaurant is cooler than it is. Lighten up your summer menu with foods that bring "cool" to the forefront. Mint dishes, cold cheese platters, ice creams, shaved ice, and cool salad with components like cucumbers and candied lemon rind. Chilled soups like strawberry or even summer squash can also be a replacement appetizer for deep fried options like onion rings or breaded zucchini. Colder options on the menu will mean less cooking with heat, which will translate into lower kitchen temperatures. 

Take stock of your windows.

If you windows face south or west, it's time to look into installing blinds or curtains to block out the rays of the sun. Dining windows increase temperatures for patrons, and kitchen windows increase temperatures for the cooks and wait staff. Custom window treatments can be expensive, so if you cannot afford them, opt for simple screens that can be pulled down during the sunniest part of the day. If even these are beyond your budget, think outside the box and cover windows with local art or newspaper clippings for a modern, hipster vibe. 

Improve your landscaping.

Use plants to your advantage. If you have an outdoor condenser for your AC, plant a tree that blocks it from the sun's rays. This can improve the efficiency of the your whole system by 10%. Plants like climbing vines can insulate walls by preventing external heating from the sun, and they provide a natural cooling effect during photosynthesis. 

For more tips, contact a local HVAC company like Jones Air Conditioning & Electric