Cash in on restaurant equipment rebates

The Environmental Protection Agency recently updated its online guides to help restaurants find cash rebates for energy-saving kitchen equipment.

The rebates range from $30 for an automatic door closer to $2,000 for a high-volume dishwasher or other major equipment. The incentive to purchase high-efficiency equipment also could take the form of financing assistance, says Una Song, program manager of the EPA’s Energy Star conservation effort.

The money usually comes from local utilities, not the EPA. Highlighting the state or local incentives is part of Energy Star’s mission of encouraging energy conservation.

To attract restaurants, Energy Star set up a “finder” that reveals the upfront rewards. Operators can scroll to their states to see what cash-back incentives are available for high-efficiency kitchen equipment.

For instance, an operator in Colorado would learn that that Denver’s water utility offers a $300 rebate to restaurateurs who purchase Energy Star-rated commercial dishwashers. The tool also lists contact information.

The incentives apply to equipment that has been certified as energy efficient by Energy Star, the EPA’s rating program, or the Consortium for Energy Efficiency, a group that sanctions a broader range of appliances.

The EPA has a second finder on its website to help restaurateurs determine what money they’d get back from buying Energy Star-rated equipment. Energy Star tests eight types: dishwashers, griddles, fryers, steamers, holding cabinets, ice machines, refrigerators and freezers, and ovens.

Users click the equipment they’re interested in buying and input their zip codes. The system automatically retrieves the applicable rebates.

Energy Star’s Song encourages restaurateurs to check with rebate providers before buying because funding can change.

The finders are updated every six months to include new programs. “We see more and more utilities interested in efficiency, so the list has probably grown,” Song says.

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