Home Guest Columns Today’s Intelligent Energy Management—Much More Than Basic HVAC Control

Today’s Intelligent Energy Management—Much More Than Basic HVAC Control


When our company first developed energy management technology back in 1992, an occupancy sensor paired with a PTAC controller capable of dynamic setback was significant. Now, 20 years later, “energy management” refers to more than just basic HVAC control.

A current energy management solution can integrate with a property management system, remotely monitor every drop of power that flows into a room, produce detailed savings reports—and go completely unnoticed to the average guest.

In unoccupied and unsold guestrooms, a single energy management solution can take complete control of the space. An energy management system can set back the room temperature, disconnect lights and “energy vampires” like televisions from the power supply, track current flow to allow for a higher mini-bar temperature, and automatically close blackout drapes to manage heat gain or loss.

All the components in the solution—thermostats, occupancy sensors, door contacts, and plug load control devices—form a wireless “mesh” to communicate information between rooms, floors, and towers. This mesh creates a robust, reliable, and self-healing network, allowing control from a remote management platform—without expensive communications wiring.

When the property management system sets the room to sold, the room temperature will be a less aggressive setback, the mini-bar will return to a normal operating temperature to completely cool the contents, and the blackout drapes will open, leaving only the light-filtering sheers in place. Because the room is still unoccupied, only one plug per outlet will have power. Non-essential hotel devices like lamps and televisions remain powerless, while one outlet is available for unrestricted guest use.

Guest Notices No Difference

As soon as a guest enters the room, occupancy sensors will detect their presence. In the sold and occupied room, power immediately returns to outlets, light switches operate normally, and within a few moments, the room temperature will reach the desired setpoint. The guest may turn on the television, charge their laptop or tablet, open or close the drapes, and put their iPhone in the dock/alarm clock to play music.

The guest will unknowingly appreciate occupancy sensors that detect motion, body heat, and ambient light levels to ensure a comfortable and consistent room temperature even while sleeping. Should the guest wake up, walk downstairs to read the newspaper over breakfast, and leave a mobile phone charging in the room, the device will continue to charge—even while the outlet below goes into power-saving mode.

When the guest checks out, occupancy sensors will detect that the room is unoccupied. The room temperature will set back, blackout drapes will close, lights will turn off, and devices on standby will no longer receive electricity.

The guest may be completely unaware that an energy management solution does so much work behind the scenes. But what does this mean for hoteliers?

On-site or from a remote location, a web-based management platform can enable a property manager to fulfill or schedule a load shed request, respond immediately to any comfort issues without needing to visit rooms, monitor day-to-day or aggregate savings, and monitor HVAC units to proactively identify potential issues.

Wireless ‘Mesh’ is Key

The wireless “mesh” is key. With an industry-standard ZigBee mesh network, a hotel can install a complete energy management solution with minimal guest interruption, remotely make settings changes room by room or en masse—and even integrate third-party solutions with minimal effort.

Energy management solutions go way beyond basic HVAC runtime reductions to offer total control of a property. Now, a property manager can pull out a tablet on the commute to work. Scan through a list of HVAC units that may need a visit from the maintenance team. Create a report illustrating savings to-date, using real-time data and illustrative graphics. Generate a chart that compares your energy expenditures with and without an energy management system.

As you read this column, hotels around the world rely on this technology as a vital part of overall building management. Recently, a hotel in New York City installed an energy management solution to maximize energy efficiency while augmenting the guest experience. With remote monitoring, the maintenance staff at the hotel can check hundreds of HVAC units remotely, configure custom alerts triggered when efficiency drops off, and quickly repair units to ensure guest comfort is never interrupted.

Today, an energy management solution can save a property owner 20 to 45 percent on a utility bill—in addition to providing the convenience and intelligence of remote management and monitoring. That’s the power of complete, contemporary, intelligent energy management.

Jason Tienor is CEO, Telkonet, Inc. For more information on Telkonet’s EcoSmart Energy Management Technology, call (414) 223-0473 or visit www.telkonet.com.