ENERGY STAR Logo High Efficiency

Guide for the Purchase and Use of ENERGY STAR® Qualified Steam Cookers

When organizations within the food services sector want to save energy and help the environment, they look for the ENERGY STAR symbol to identify energy-efficient products.

Restaurants, bars, schools, hospitals, nursing homes, churches, and institutional cafeterias all possess commercial kitchens. These foodservice facilities are among the most energy-intensive establishments in the commercial building sector. The cooking and cleaning appliances consume a significant portion of the energy use. These facilities can reduce their utility bills significantly through the use of ENERGY STAR qualified equipment.

What are steam cookers?

Commercial steam cookers process large quantities of food products by transferring the energy contained in steam to cook food by direct contact. ENERGY STAR electric and gas steam cookers use shorter cook times and higher production rates, reduce heat loss because of better insulation, and meet maximum idle energy rates. ENERGY STAR qualified steam cookers also save water because they do not require water to be heated the entire time they are on.

Design features that have a significant impact on reducing energy use:

  • improved insulation, which reduces heat loss
  • steam delivery system with forced convection
  • automated controls for steam generation that monitor the cooking process
  • advanced controls for reduced energy input during idling

Are ENERGY STAR qualified steam cookers easily available in Canada?

Yes, ENERGY STAR models are available for purchase and operate on gas or electricity.

Several manufacturers provide ENERGY STAR qualified commercial steam cookers for the Canadian food service industry. Contact the manufacturers directly or speak with your food equipment supplier.

How do steam cookers qualify for the ENERGY STAR symbol?

Commercial steam cookers that are ENERGY STAR qualified can be either electric or gas. They must meet a minimum cooking efficiency of 50 percent (electric) and 38 percent (gas) while also meeting a maximum idle energy rate based on the pan capacity (that is 3-, 4-, 5-, and 6-pan units).

Idle energy rates are a good measure of energy efficiency because, even in busy restaurants, some steam cookers are idle up to 75 percent of the time. The following table shows the maximum idle rates for ENERGY STAR qualified units.

“Commercial Cooking Appliance Technology Assessment”, Food Service Technology Center, FSTC Report #5011.02.26, 2002.

Maximum idle rates for ENERGY STAR qualified steam cookers
Pan Capacity Maximum idle rate
Electric watts (W) Gas Btu/h
3-pan 400 6,250
4-pan 530 8,350
5-pan 670 10,400
6-pan 800 12,500

Cooking energy efficiency is the ratio of the energy absorbed by the food to the energy input to the steam cooker.The idle energy rate is the amount of energy an appliance uses to maintain a stable operating temperature.

Is there sample procurement language available to specify ENERGY STAR qualified steam cookers?

Organizations can use this sample procurement language in their contracts or purchase orders to facilitate the procurement of ENERGY STAR qualified commercial steam cookers.

An example:

The vendor must provide commercial steam cookers that earn the ENERGY STAR qualification and meet the ENERGY STAR specifications for energy efficiency. Only 3-, 4-, 5-, and 6-pan capacity units can qualify for ENERGY STAR. Models can include countertop models, wall-mounted models and floor models. The vendor is encouraged to visit energystar.gc.ca for complete product specifications and an updated list of qualifying products.

Energy efficiency requirements for electric steam cookers
Pan capacity Cooking energy efficiency* (percentage) Idle rate (watts)**
3-pan 50 400
4-pan 50 530
5-pan 50 670
6-pan 50 800

*Cooking energy efficiency is based on heavy load (potato) cooking capacity.
**Idle energy rate: The rate of appliance energy consumption while it is maintaining or holding at a stabilized operating condition or temperature.

Energy efficiency requirements for gas steam cookers
Pan capacity Cooking energy efficiency* (percentage) Idle rate** (Btu/h)
3-pan 38 6,250
4-pan 38 8,350
5-pan 38 10,400
6-pan 38 12,500

*Cooking energy efficiency is based on heavy load (potato) cooking capacity.

**Idle energy rate: The rate of appliance energy consumption while it is maintaining or holding at a stabilized operating condition or temperature.

Purchasing Guide

TheENERGY STAR Purchasing Guide contains an implementation plan for energy-efficient purchasing, tools on making the business case for ENERGY STAR qualified products, and more. The guide is designed to help your organization purchase energy-efficient products, while working within your own framework and rules. Download your copy at http://oee.nrcan.gc.ca/publications/equipment/pdfs/m-144-206-2009e.pdf.

Did You Know?

Replacing a conventional steam cooker with a connectionless model has the potential to save on water consumption, reducing water and wastewater costs significantly. One field study demonstrated that replacing a small steam cooker with a connectionless model saved 1136 litres (300 gallons) of water per day.

“Commercial Cooking Appliance Technology Assessment”, Food Service Technology Center, FSTC Report #5011.02.26, 2002.

What can ENERGY STAR qualified steam cookers save me?

You must examine the business case to get a full understanding of the benefits of choosing an ENERGY STAR qualified product instead of a non- ENERGY STAR qualified product. The following table compares a high-efficiency ENERGY STAR qualified steam cooker with a baseline model for both natural gas and electric steam cookers.

If you purchase a high-efficiency, ENERGY STAR qualified commercial gas-powered steam cooker,

  • annual cost savings will be $449 and
  • the payback period will be 7.5 months, assuming an incremental cost of $280

If you purchase a high-efficiency, ENERGY STAR qualified commercial electric steam cooker,

  • annual cost savings will be $375 and
  • the payback period will be 3 months, assuming an incremental cost of $230
Potential energy and water savings of a high-efficiency commercial steam cooker
Parameter Per unit energy consumption and cost
Natural gas Electricity
Baseline unit 77,545 megajoules per year (MJ/yr) 7,868 kilowatt hours (kWh)/yr
High-efficiency unit 41,780 MJ/yr 4,120
Energy savings 35,765 MJ/yr 3,748
Energy cost $0.48/m3 $0.10/kWh/yr
Cost savings $449/yr $375/yr
Baseline unit cost $7,120 $4,000
High-efficiency unit cost $7,400 $4,230
Cost differential $280 $230
Payback period 7.5 months 7.4 months

* Source: ENERGY STAR Web site. Assumes a 3-pan size steam cooker.

Use the ENERGY STAR Savings Calculator to determine the difference in energy savings between ENERGY STAR qualified and non-qualified commercial steam cookers.

The Food Service Technology Center (FSTC) provides a free “ Life-Cycle and Energy Cost Calculator” on its Web site that automates the calculation of the annual and life-cycle energy costs of a commercial steam cooker. The user can enter the number of pans, preheat energy, idle energy rate, energy efficiency, product capacity, steamer usage data, lifetime cost and energy cost. The calculator then provides the annual energy consumption, annual water consumption, annual operating cost, and lifetime operating cost.

Share your successes

Has your organization reaped the rewards of investing in ENERGY STAR products? We want to hear from you!

  • Submit your story to equipment@nrcan.gc.ca and be recognized for your energy saving efforts.

  • In your submission, include the name of your organization, contact information, and a brief description of your ENERGY STAR project, paying special attention to the energy savings your organization has achieved.