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).