How a gallon jug could save $400 a year

Published 3:34 pm Saturday, June 8, 2013

Column: Guest Column, by Alexis Troschinetz

Restaurants use more energy per square foot than any other commercial business. Some of that energy is used to heat water for cleaning dishes and washing hands in busy kitchens.

Alexis Troschinetz

Alexis Troschinetz

Most commercial kitchens use a pre-rinse spray valve to clean off the food waste before the dishes go into the washing machine. The problem? A lot of these units use three times more water and energy than newer, more efficient models.

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Do this simple test to see what kind of pre-rinse spray valve you have: Get a one-gallon jug or bucket. If you can fill a one-gallon container in 30 seconds or less, you should probably invest in a new pre-rinse spray valve.

Why? Because the older units typically use three gallons or more each minute, versus the newer models that use 1.28 gallons a minute or less. Depending on how often and how long you are using the sprayer, this difference can result in big energy and water savings.

The Clean Energy Resource Teams — or CERTs — are a statewide partnership with a shared mission to connect individuals and their communities to the resources they need to identify and implement community-based clean energy projects. As the staff person responsible for delivering programs that help to achieve this mission, I wanted to share with the Albert Lea community about an exciting program we’re currently offering.

CERTs have created the Make A Splash campaign to make it more affordable to replace older models of pre-rinse spray valves and draw attention to this often overlooked and simple retrofit.

We’re always looking for smart and easy ways for folks to save on their energy bills. We’ve estimated that a commercial kitchen switching to an efficient sprayer could save around $400 year after year once they make the upgrade.

This is a not-for-profit program — anyone can order these units for $28 (typically $68 retail) through an easy online ordering form available at the CERTs’ Make A Splash website:

The Make A Splash website also provides a list of all utility rebates around the state that can further lower the cost of each spray valves to about $15.

Thirty-five restaurants have participated in the Make A Splash program by installing spray valves and faucet aerators, also available in this program. We estimate they are each saving about $1,200 on their water and energy utility bills year after year.

Restaurant owners are pleased with their new spray valves through our program. Many owners see a noticeable decrease in water use and have realized that they didn’t need a lot of water to get the job done — all they need is good water pressure.

We have a great series of YouTube videos during which you can learn about testing your current spray valve, how this program can help restaurants and many other businesses and organizations in your community, and how to replace your spray valve. Go to

Our goal with this program is to get as many of these water- and energy-efficient spray valves in use all across Minnesota. Be the first in the Albert Lea area to join the program!

Not a restaurant owner? Be a good patron to your favorite restaurants and let them know about this easy opportunity to make their business even more successful.

To learn more, visit or call me at 612.626.0455.


Alexis Troschinetz is the behavior change and metrics coordinator for Clean Energy Resource Teams, which is based at the University of Minnesota in the Twin Cities.