Hot Food Holding Cabinets


Hot food holding cabinets (HFHC) are used in places such as restaurants, hospitals, and schools to keep food warm until it is ready to be served. They typically include a heating element and a fan.


There are no national standards for hot food holding cabinets. The first ENERGY STAR specification for hot food holding cabinets set a maximum idle energy rate of 40 W per cubic foot of interior volume. The idle energy rate refers to the power consumed when the unit is maintaining the control set point. In 2004, the California Energy Commission (CEC) adopted this level as a statewide minimum standard. The same standard was subsequently adopted by Colorado, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Maryland, New Hampshire, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington. An updated ENERGY STAR specification (Version 2.0), which took effect in 2011, set a maximum idle power consumption level based on the measured interior volume. For a 20 cubic foot unit, the current ENERGY STAR specification limits idle power consumption to 294 W, which represents energy savings of 63% compared to the earlier specification. Massachusetts, Nevada, and Rhode Island, have adopted or updated standards to ENERGY STAR Version 2.0. 


Appropriate insulation in hot food holding cabinets is the key mechanism for reducing energy consumption. Improved insulation also provides better temperature uniformity within the cabinet and keeps the external surface of the cabinet cooler. Other features that reduce heat loss include automatic door closers, magnetic door gaskets, and split doors (i.e. Dutch doors).


Federal Date States
2024 WA Standard Effective
2023 NV Standard Effective
2023 ME Standard Effective
2023 RI Standard Effective
2022 WA Standard Adopted
2022 DC Standard Effective
2022 MA Standard Effective
2022 NJ Standard Effective
2021 ME Standard Adopted
2021 RI Standard Adopted
2021 NV Standard Adopted
2021 MA Standard Adopted
2021 NJ Standard Adopted
2021 CO Standard Effective
2020 DC Standard Adopted
2020 VT Standard Effective
2019 CO Standard Adopted
2018 VT Standard Adopted
2010 WA Standard Effective
2009 OR Standard Effective
2009 WA Standard Adopted
2009 DC Standard Effective
2009 NH Standard Effective
2009 MD Standard Effective
2009 CT Standard Effective
2008 NH Standard Adopted
2008 RI Standard Effective
2007 DC Standard Adopted
2007 MD Standard Adopted
2007 OR Standard Adopted
2007 CT Standard Adopted
2006 RI Standard Adopted
2006 CA Standard Effective
2004 CA Standard Adopted

Timeline reflects state standards from 2001 to present; federal standards from inception to present.