Home Energy Management Keep the Power ‘Variable’ to Reduce Your Hotel’s Energy Costs

Keep the Power ‘Variable’ to Reduce Your Hotel’s Energy Costs

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Glenn Hasek

One of the most important words to look for when considering energy-efficient equipment for your hotel is “variable.” I come across it often. In some cases, the technology has been available for years; in other cases, not. The main idea with “variable” is to not be running on 100 percent all the time. This past week in my feature on the very green Revisn aparthotel in Raleigh, N.C. you will see mention of a Variable Refrigerant Flow (VRF) heating and air-conditioning system. By operating at varying speeds, heat recovery VRF units work only at the needed rate allowing for substantial energy savings at partial-load conditions. (See related article for more details.)

In the kitchen, exhaust hoods are another great place for variable speed systems. Fan speed is based on load. A sensor is placed in the exhaust duct to monitor air temperature. A signal is transmitted to a processor to vary the fan speed in proportion to the actual heat load. An optic sensor inside the hood monitors when actual cooking is taking place. Upon the detection of any smoke/vapors inside the hood, it sends a signal to a processor to speed up the fans to 100 percent capacity until the effluent is removed. (See related article.)

A number of years ago at the Charles Hotel in Cambridge, Mass., the hotel installed variable speed drives (VFDs) on air handling units to control static pressure, and on cooling towers to slow down the control fan motors which cool the water that is used at the hotel. The VFDs help to slow the drive motors by reducing electricity going to the motor, and therefore reduce the number of consumed kilowatts. (See article.)

Appears in Commercial Laundry Equipment

One commercial laundry machine producer recently touted its new multi-load washer with a variable frequency drive system. Two years ago, I reported on the St. Julien Hotel & Spa and its installation of variable frequency drives on motors. One ozone laundry system provider says its variable ozone system automatically delivers custom amounts of ozone as determined by each wash load.

Do a search on “variable” on the Green Lodging News website and you will find many other examples of suppliers and hoteliers investing in variable speed technologies.

Variable speed systems may qualify for rebates or tax deductions. Be sure to check with your supplier, local utility or this website for information.

According to the Green Lodging Trends Report 2018, 74.7 percent of hoteliers participating in the survey have installed variable frequency/speed drives and/or electronically commutated motors in an HVAC or elsewhere. A total of 59.6 of respondents indicated that variable frequency drives (VFDs) are used in water pumps, 52.6 percent are used in main air handling units and 50.8 percent used in elevators.

You may pay more for variable speed technology but expect a strong return. Dicky Walia, CEO and Managing Director of Welcome Holdings which developed the “green” Revisn brand, said of the Revisn property’s VRF system, “It is two times expensive but 55 percent more efficient.”

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