PLAINFIELD, ILL.—Was your hotel built before 1993? If so, chances are you’re losing money each time a guest flushes one of the hotel’s toilets.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that hotels use about 15 percent of the total water consumed by commercial and institutional facilities in the United States. Actual usage varies by guest, of course, but most studies indicate hotels use between 100 to 200 gallons of fresh water per occupied guestroom per day. Water in the United States ranges from three to five dollars per 1,000 gallons. Simple math shows how efforts to reduce water use can potentially lower hotel operating costs.
The good news is that while you can’t control your hotel guest’s use of utilities, you can control the hotel’s operating costs through proven, environmentally friendly renovations to plumbing and electrical systems, resulting in tremendous savings. As an example, let’s say you manage a 100-room property built in 1990 with a 50 percent occupancy rate that hasn’t had any recent updates to toilets, shower heads, and sinks.
Huge Upside to Low-Flow Toilets
On average, a guestroom toilet is flushed 15 times a day—figuring between two guests and housekeeping—using 52.5 gallons of water per day based on an older, 3.5 gallon-per-flush toilet. Multiply that by 365 days and by 50 rooms and that’s 958,100 gallons flushed away in a year. However, if newer, 0.8 gallon-per-flush toilets are installed, that total is reduced to 219,000 gallons a year or approximately 75 percent less water.
Now, head over to the shower. Showers run for average 23 minutes a day in a typical hotel room. For an older shower head that uses three gallons per minute, that equates to 1,259,250 gallons in a year for the total hotel. By changing to a one gallon-per-minute flow, that total is now 419,750 a year.
Same goes for the hand sink. Two guests and housekeeping combine to use the sink an average of 12 minutes a day, which calculates to 474,500 gallons annually based on out-of-date, 2.2 gallon-per-minute sink aerators and the 50-room average occupancy. A new one gallon-per-minute aerator cuts usage to 219,000 gallons in a year.
Add it all up, and these investments to the guest bathrooms in our example hotel will save over 1.8 million gallons of water each year, which is the definition of being eco-friendly and fiscally responsible.
Reasonable Payback Period
And how does that affect the water bill? Factoring an average water rate of $3 per 1,000 gallons used and a sewer rate that is 85 percent of your water bill, the hotelier could be looking at savings of just over $10,000 per year, which would offset the total cost of the updates in less than two years. Plus, this doesn’t include the cost of energy used to heat water in the shower or sink, or the water used in lobby restrooms, kitchens/breakfast areas, and laundry facilities.
Another way to reduce water consumption is allowing guests to “opt out” of daily new towels and linens. By these guests deciding to go an extra day or two before the towels and linens need washing, water consumption will drop significantly.
But why stop at water to save money? Addressing your hotel’s interior and exterior lighting will also positively impact your bottom line. For example, consider the difference if you switch from using antiquated 100 watt incandescent light bulbs to 11 watt LED bulbs. The usage cost—based on a rate of 12 cents per kilowatt hour—for one bulb drops from $105 to $12 a year, and the life expectancy of an LED bulb is 50 times longer. Compared to fluorescent, LEDs are up to 60 percent more energy-efficient and last years longer without maintenance. For an interior corridor hotel that has, say, 52 recessed can lights that are always on, the total cost, including usage and replacement, can be reduced from $9,464 to $1,248 a year by making the switch from incandescent to LED lighting.
Ask About Rebates, Incentives
Also, if you do make any of the above-mentioned improvements, be sure to inquire about any current federal, state, local or utility rebates or incentives that promote water conservation, renewable energy and energy efficiency in hotels.
Finally, shopping utility companies is a smart way to cut down on expensive bills, as there is often more than one energy and natural gas provider in a larger market. It’s typically free to change over and the savings can be well worth it.
Investing in some simple renovations to plumbing and lighting can positively impact your hotel from both a financial and environmental perspective, helping you become not only a greener hotel, but also enjoy a “greener” bottom line.
To learn more, visit www.cicero-construction.com.