When one of your guestrooms is vacant, even for just a few hours, how do you know whether or not the HVAC system is running at full blast needlessly? If you do not know the heating or cooling status of each guestroom at all times, you have got a problem. Do you really believe guests are going to treat your guestrooms like their own homes and watch the thermostat like a hawk? Think again. If you do not have a process or technology in place to monitor guestroom HVAC usage, you are throwing away your money and ultimately impacting the environment as well.
At the very least, housekeepers should double-check HVAC systems each day when turning a room. Guest checkout should also trigger a step to monitor heating and cooling systems. Even if these are done, there are many hours throughout a day when guests are not in the room when HVAC systems can be running unnecessarily. For years, systems have been available to automatically power down heating and cooling when guests leave the room but only one out of five hotels uses them. What gives?
In case you are not at all familiar with guestroom energy management systems, many of them use passive infrared sensor technology to detect a guest’s presence in a room. When a guest leaves the room, the sensor “talks” to the HVAC system and cuts room temperature back to a comfortable, energy-saving level. These systems tie in with guestroom thermostats and oftentimes incorporate door sensors and window sensors. Some of these systems are keycard-based, meaning that an HVAC system is turned on when a guest enters a room and inserts the card, and is turned off after a guest removes the card and leaves the room.
Significant Savings Potential
An article now appearing in Green Lodging News summarizes what many of the lodging industry’s leading vendors are offering in the world of guestroom energy management. Please be sure to investigate each company. Most systems offer cost savings of from 25 percent to 45 percent and offer very reasonable returns on investment. In fact, some companies offer leasing programs where you actually save more money per month than you pay. Not a bad deal.
Wireless technology now makes it easy to install guestroom energy management systems in any type of property. Most vendors now offer wireless options. Systems that enable one to monitor all guestroom HVAC usage from a centralized location also are becoming more common.
Some sensors have been perceived by guests as in-room cameras—not a good thing—but sensors resembling smoke detectors are now available. If settings are improperly configured, guests can be inconvenienced if a room is too cool or too warm upon entering a room. This type of problem can be overcome easily.
If you have shopped around for guestroom energy management systems and decided not to implement one, what stopped you? Cost? Installation or maintenance concerns? Guest comfort issues? For those of you who have installed such systems, what types of guest complaints have you received? Please send me an e-mail; I would like to know.
With energy costs lower than they have been and the lodging industry doing so well, it is easy not to do the extra things to conserve energy and protect the environment. With such promise for cost savings, however, guestroom energy management systems should not be overlooked—no matter what the economic climate may be.
Odds and Ends
Thank you to the Ohio Hotel & Lodging Assn. for inviting me to speak last week at its annual conference. It was a pleasure to meet so many hoteliers from the Buckeye state. Thank you also to the Green Meeting Industry Council for inviting me to participate in its February “Greening the Hospitality Industry” event.
As always, I can be reached at email@example.com, or by calling (440) 243-2055. I look forward to hearing from you.