For restaurant operators increasingly watchful of their spending, energy bills are a common area of concern. In recent months, electricity bills for consumers increased nearly 16 percent over the same period last year, marking their highest rise since 1981, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Total energy costs were about 24 percent above August 2021 levels. For restaurants, which rely heavily on gas and electricity for so many functions that are central to business, finding ways to trim energy expenses and use energy as efficiently as possible is especially important to the bottom line. This is particularly true as the industry continues to recover from the pandemic, extreme weather has disrupted production in oil-producing states, and the war in Ukraine has put upward pressure on natural gas and coal prices. If you don’t have a strong idea of the biggest contributors to your energy costs, conduct an energy audit to help you better understand how your equipment – and your staff’s use of it – can be improved. Your equipment itself may be adding unnecessary expense due to a malfunction or inefficiency. Refrigerators, for example, can be responsible for half of a restaurant’s power use; gas burners consume far more energy than induction burners. You may be running appliances for longer periods than is necessary. Sensors and other energy-efficient tools can help, as can a regular survey of equipment to ensure it’s operating as it should.