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Custom Energy Efficiency: Hotels

I don’t think I have ever appreciated a hotel as much as I did during a trip to Houston for a cleantech tradeshow Smartcool was exhibiting at a few years ago. The humidity was off the charts and it felt like I was slowly melting into the sidewalk going to and from the show each day. But the second I stepped into that hotel, everything was perfect.

hotelThe temperature was just right- not frigid, but certainly cool enough to be a fantastic antidote for the sweaty, sticky heat outside.   My room was lit softly, a welcome relief from the glaring sun, but still bright enough to read and work comfortably. And best of all, I had full control over everything in my small empire- dimmers for the lights, temperature control and timers for the air conditioning.

These much-appreciated conveniences come at a steep price for hotels who spend an average of 6 to 10% of all operating costs on energy. Up to 75% of that is eaten up by space conditioning, with an average of 30% just for air conditioning. For hotels in hotter climates (like steamy Houston), air conditioning energy consumption is closer to 50% and represents a major burden on a hotel’s bottom line.

Here are just a few ideas for hotels looking to save energy…

Lighting

This is the go-to area that most people think of first for energy savings. While energy efficient ways of lighting up a hotel should be employed, these measures are really a small part of a larger set of changes needed. On average, lighting only makes up 12-18% of overall hotel energy use, so energy efficiency gains will have a relatively small impact on the overall energy profile of the hotel. Fortunately, making lighting more energy efficient is relatively easy:

Energy efficient bulbs make the most out of the existing lighting system. Not only do CFL bulbs and LED lights (appropriate for things like exit signs) use less energy, but they also have a longer lifespan which cuts down on replacement costs.

Occupancy sensors can make a substantial difference to the energy usage of lighting. Most hotel rooms are only occupied for a fraction of the day, and it is estimated that over 75% of guest room lighting energy consumption happens when the room is empty!

Having smart sensors like these ones, that turn off lights when a guest leaves their room can result in huge efficiency gains. Significant savings can also be made by installing occupancy sensors in public areas like meeting rooms, restrooms, hallways, etc.

Space Conditioning

As mentioned above, space conditioning eats up the majority of a hotel’s energy. It offers the single largest opportunity for energy savings and the related cost reductions.

Insulation can make a big difference in the energy efficiency of any building, and hotels are no exception (see our previous post on homes to see just how important this can be). If your hotel is poorly insulated, all the improvements in the world for your heating and cooling system will be secondary to the gains you can make by upgrading your insulation.

Air conditioning is a huge energy pig in hotels. It gobbles up a massive amount of energy, and often hoteliers feel at a loss for how to change this. Guests demand constant cooling when it is hot out- I’m embarrassed to say that I honestly would have pitched a fit if my hotel room was not air conditioned in Houston! So hoteliers cannot simply turn off the A/C to save energy.

Smartcool offers a great solution to this dilemma, as our products can make a big difference to air conditioning energy efficiency without any impact on temperature. Guests stay comfortably cool (and therefore not cranky or fit-pitching!), and hotels still get to save energy.

Stay tuned for details in a feature article on Smartcool’s results for hotels like JW Marriott, Hilton and Radisson, which will be published later this week in the Chartered Institute of Building Service Engineers (CiBSE) Journal Hotel & Leisure Supplement.

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