Luxury resorts and small motels alike benefit financially from being energy efficient. Cutting energy usage is good for the planet, it helps the economy, and it puts money in hotels’ pockets. However, while energy efficiency opportunities abound, they are frequently not taken. Why? In working with hotels, sustainability analysts at BlueMap Inc. found that many managers simply did not understand how fast the cost of wasting energy adds up to real money. In our experience, it is not unusual for hotels to save from $10,000 to well over $30,000 per year, per property, by employing the right measures. To help clarify this, we compiled the list below of 11 simple steps any hotel can take to save energy—and money.
1) Guestroom Energy Management—Most guestroom energy management systems use integrated sensors and smart thermostats to shut down room heating and cooling when it is not needed. Many systems use infrared sensors to detect body heat in a room, which then wirelessly tells the through-the-wall climate control unit to adjust the room’s temperature accordingly. By using a guestroom energy management system, in parts of the country with significant heating or cooling needs, hotels can save as much as $100 per room every year.
2) Vending Miser Product—Vending machines run the display case light and refrigerator motor day and night, regardless of time or occupancy. One product on the market cuts back on this energy waste. It uses a motion detector to sense when nobody has been around the machine for a while, and then it shuts off the display light and turns off the refrigerator motor. To make sure the drinks in the machine do not get warm, it turns the motor back on every two hours for a bit, but this way the motor is not running full blast all through the night. The system can save $150 a year per machine, and many utilities give rebates for buying it that are large enough to offset more than half the purchase price.
Bathroom Light as Night Light
3) Bathroom Light— It is difficult to generalize the lighting load of guest bathroom lighting since there are a variety of fixtures, but a 200-watt light equivalent can be assumed. Guests frequently leave bathroom lights on as night lights. Assuming this happens on a regular basis, or about eight hours per day, it will cost an additional $50 per room per year to operate this light. We suggest installing a motion sensor in each bathroom.
4) Jacuzzi—Many new limited service hotels have a small indoor pool and whirlpool. It is not unusual to find a whirlpool with an aerator that operates continuously. This aerator is typically a one and one-half horsepower pump and can easily be kept off for at least four to eight hours per day. If the aerator runs continuously, it will cost an additional $200 to $300 per year to operate.
5) Housekeeping/Storeroom Lights—Storerooms generally have one or two 100-watt incandescent lights that are frequently left on continuously. When these lights burn all hours, it will cost the hotel $60 to $120 per year per room in wasted energy. We suggest installing either a motion sensor, or simply placing a sign telling employees to turn off the light.
No Need to Heat Coffee Continuously
6) Commercial Coffee Maker—Almost every hotel offers free coffee to guests in the lobby areas. These coffee pots are usually kept hot even when they are not actually in use, which is a problem since commercial coffee makers consume a great deal of energy (about 2,500 watts). If the coffee maker is turned off for four hours per day when not in use, it can save the hotel owner approximately $275 per year.
7) Room Lighting—While the drive to switch to CFL light bulbs or the new, brighter LED lights is spreading to hotels, most rooms provide four table or wall-mounted incandescent lamps. Typically, these are 100-watt incandescent bulbs. When they are left on for four hours per day, the energy cost is $50 per year, per room. We suggest changing these lights to CFLs or LEDs.
8) Bathroom Exhaust Fan—Some guest bathroom exhaust fans are controlled by the light switch. Therefore, when the bathroom light is left on, the fan runs continuously. This is a very small motor; therefore, if the fan were left on eight hours per day, it would cost about $25 per year to operate, not including the large cost of replacing exhausted air with outside air. We suggest installing motion sensors that tie the light and the fan to the same occupancy sensor.
9) Pool Lights—Small indoor swimming pools are usually provided with two 500-watt incandescent underwater lights. Unfortunately, many managers leave these lights on for decorative purposes when the pool room is closed. Turning these lights off for eight hours every night will save approximately $250 per year.
10) Stairwell Lighting—The most popular design for limited service hotels incorporates numerous exterior windows that almost always provide adequate light in stairwells during daytime hours. If, despite the natural light, lights are turned on continuously in stairwells, it will cost $200 to $300 per year per stairwell depending on the number of floors in the hotel. (Hotels without natural light must leave stairwell lights on 24 hours per day for safety reasons). We suggest installing motion or occupancy sensors to light hallways and stairwells.
Monitor Parking Lot Lights
11) Parking Lot Lights—Savings obtained in reducing parking lot lighting depends directly on the total number of lights and wattage in a parking lot. Assuming the presence of ten 400-watt high-pressure sodium lamps, operating these lights just one hour too long in the morning and in the evening will cost the hotel owner an additional $250 per year. To realize the full savings, we suggest to first make sure the lights are hooked to a daylight sensor (although most parking lot lights are). If the lights are staying on during the day but a daylight sensor is in place, it means the sensor needs to be recalibrated. This is a simple adjustment to the control, which is free except for your maintenance employee’s time.
Conclusion—While it can be difficult to assess how much energy is wasted each year in a hotel, experienced sustainability consultants can help hotel managers find the best opportunities for their unique property.
Brandon Conard is a sustainability analyst at BlueMap Inc., a research firm focused on the quantification of sustainability decisions and clean tech investments. BlueMap Inc. specializes in creating profitable and innovative environmental impact reduction strategies. BlueMap’s advantage is its focus on quantitative analysis to prove which strategies concurrently lower overall costs as well as environmental impact.