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What’s the Real Cost of Electrification?

Climate change can no longer be thought about as a future problem. It\’s already here and has a significant impact on all industries. This includes the restaurant and foodservice industries, which have relied on a steady supply of natural gas for decades. In particular, some ethnic cuisines, such as Asian and Middle Eastern, use the strong, blue flame of natural gas as an important part of the cooking process. Unrooting natural gas from foodservice can be difficult, especially for cuisine types that are accustomed to using natural gas. But given the significant impact climate change will have on the industry, it\’s critical for operators to understand how electric foodservice equipment will make an impact over the next decade.

Gas vs. Electric on Price & Usage

Today, many states are restricting the construction of commercial kitchens by prohibiting natural gas. Restaurant owners and operators may be required only to use electricity-powered units, which can be a problem for traditional “blue flame-loving” operations. For example, Los Angeles recently introduced legislation prohibiting the installation of gas appliances in newly constructed buildings. Citing the environmental and health impacts of using natural gas, it is only one of the latest cities to encourage a shift from natural gas to electricity.

One of the biggest concerns that restaurant owners and managers have is the cost of electricity compared to natural gas. Indeed, natural gas is generally cheaper than electricity. For example, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), just a few years ago, a dollar of natural gas generated approximately 59,000 BTUs (British Thermal Units, a unit of heat measurement). In contrast, a dollar will generate approximately 34,120 BTUs. But this doesn’t tell the whole story.

The installation of natural gas can be expensive. Foodservice equipment may cost more, and it may cost a significant amount of money to run gas lines to the building. Then, the cost of maintaining these gas lines can be high. Add the cost of HVAC and ventilation for certain types of equipment, and these additional expenses may offset the relatively inexpensive cost of natural gas. 

Pros & Benefits of Electric Heat & Equipment

There are some significant benefits provided by electric foodservice equipment. For example, individuals using the equipment generally do not require as much training. The operators don’t have to spend as long learning how to use electric equipment, which can help restaurant owners and managers save significant money. 

Furthermore, natural gas restrictions are only going to increase down the road. When these new laws go into effect, it will only be even more expensive for restaurants to make the transition. Therefore, foodservice operators deciding to make the transition now may save a significant amount of money in the long run.

Generally, electric appliances do not take up as much space as gas appliances. Space for commercial restaurants in kitchens is at a premium, and restaurant owners may be able to save money if they can produce their orders in a smaller space. 

Finally, making the switch to electric equipment also improves environmental stewardship. Restaurant owners and managers can advertise that they have reduced their carbon footprints, which may endear them to potential customers and patrons. Switching to electric appliances could help them widen their customer base. 

There Are Benefits to Making the Switch to Electric Appliances and Kitchens Now

Even though the cost of electrification when comparing gas vs. electric cooking equipment is important, the benefits of switching to electric foodservice equipment cannot be overstated. Restaurant owners and foodservice operators that hope to compete in the current environment need to consider not only natural gas restrictions but also the advantages of electric kitchens. There are options available for exceptional equipment.

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