Energy-Management System Reduces Restaurants' Electricity Consumption

July 1, 2010
Savings up to 20 percent; ROI less than six months

The vice president of operations for Scottsdale, Ariz.-based Arby's-restaurant franchisee FX4 (“Fantastic Food, Fast & Friendly”), Jay Johnson had tried everything to reduce electricity consumption at each of the company's 55 locations, including reminding employees to turn off air conditioners at night and covering programmable thermostats with lockboxes. Nothing worked. Invariably, employees would forget to turn off air conditioners, or they would poke a straw or toothpick through a lockbox to override a thermostat's programs. At some locations, electricity bills were as high as $4,000 a month.

Johnson then learned of EcoView Commercial, an energy-management system from Advanced Telemetry LLC. EcoView Commercial promised remote access and control, as well as real-time insight into individual-location power consumption. Only a select few upper-level managers would have access to the Web application and be able to adjust systems. Additionally, Advanced Telemetry Network Operations Center personnel would be on the lookout for anomalies related to HVAC run times and power consumption and be available to provide support around the clock.

Johnson decided to install and test EcoView Commercial at two stand-alone locations, both approximately 2,500 sq ft. One had been constructed recently, while the other was an older facility. The stores were served by different utilities.

Installation involved replacing standard 24-v thermostats with wireless communicating models. The new thermostats send information to and receive information from an interactive touch panel mounted in the manager's office. In addition to a display, the touch panel operates as an Internet gateway; it is connected to a router via a standard Ethernet port. Sub-meters measure total unit electricity consumption every 15 sec and report that information to the touch panel. All wireless communication is via the ZigBee protocol.

Immediately following installation, one store's monthly electricity bill went down $800 from the previous year. During the five-month test period, Johnson saw reductions in electricity consumption every month except one.

“We were doing cartwheels,” Johnson said.

Store employees can adjust a thermostat by a couple of degrees to accommodate hot or cold customers, but the system will return to the manager's setting, usually within an hour.

With utility incentives, Johnson saw paybacks on his investment in as little as three months. As a result, FX4 is installing EcoView Commercial systems at all of its Arizona locations.

Information and photograph courtesy of Advanced Telemetry LLC.
Circle 101

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About the Author

Scott Arnold | Executive Editor

Described by a colleague as "a cyborg ... requir(ing) virtually no sleep, no time off, and bland nourishment that can be consumed while at his desk" who was sent "back from the future not to terminate anyone, but with the prime directive 'to edit dry technical copy' in order to save the world at a later date," Scott Arnold joined the editorial staff of HPAC Engineering in 1999. Prior to that, he worked as an editor for daily newspapers and a specialty-publications company. He has a bachelor's degree in journalism from Kent State University.