By Robert Holdsworth, President
Energy Edge Solutions Corp.
Hotels consume significant amounts of energy, with utility expenditures reported to be among their largest controllable costs. Fortunately, programs of energy cost reduction and management have been used very successfully to save money and improve profits while maintaining or even improving guest comfort and overall experience.
On average, hotels use 12 kWh of electricity and 41 cubic feet of gas per square foot. HVAC represents 47% of electrical use, space heating constitutes 55% of natural gas usage and lighting represents 24% of total energy consumption. This clearly indicates the value of focusing on improving the energy efficiency of lighting and HVAC loads.
With much information available and many options to choose from, it can be hard to know where to begin. By taking a carefully planned “whole facility” approach, it is easier to feel confident that you are making the best, most financially and operationally prudent energy efficiency choices for your unique facility. In today’s industry there are proven and recommended engineering approaches and technologies available that can guarantee results. And by working with an experienced, energy services company or engineering firm, choosing the right options does not need to be complicated.
What is the best way to begin? Focus on the quick fixes first! These low cost or no cost solutions can include training staff to turn off lights, close window coverings and turn down thermostats in unoccupied rooms, using sleep mode settings for computers, registers, office equipment, etc. when not in use, training staff to book rooms in clusters and ensuring that HVAC and refrigeration systems are serviced and cleaned on a regular basis
After you’ve addressed the “low hanging fruit”, next steps can involve choosing from a variety of longer term options that are designed to deliver much greater energy savings. Options should be considered based on their proven track record of success, whether they are “Approved” or “recommended” by organizations such as Energy Star, US DOE, USGBC, IEEE, etc., their cost effectiveness and return on investment as well as consistency with your hotel’s goals and culture.
Experience has shown that some of the better programs for hotels include lighting upgrades to high efficiency fluorescent, CFL and/ or LED, use of occupancy sensors and day-lighting opportunities, sine wave modification for outdoor lighting circuits, liquid pressure amplification for central chiller plants, energy management based on occupancy, anti-compressor short cycling for roof top units, use of variable frequency drives, building management systems linked to reservation systems and possibly equipment replacement for older systems that are approaching the end of their useful life
As you proceed, know that you don’t have to do it alone. There are experienced firms who can help make recommendations and provide turnkey services for you. In choosing a partner to guide this type of “whole facility” approach for you, it is important to look at a number of factors. You may want to ask the following: What is their level of experience using these various technologies, do they use proven and recommended approaches, what are the credentials of their staff, are they members of key industry organizations, what is their level of knowledge of your industry, do they offer a free initial evaluation and do they offer guarantees at each step of their process.
And remember that the sooner you begin, the sooner you start improving profit margins and showcasing your facility as an environmentally conscious business!