Steve Beer, Sector Manager of Energy Solutions at EDF Energy, examines the challenges that hoteliers face when it comes to energy saving
Hotels are massive energy consumers. With energy intensive facilities like swimming pools and laundry services, hotel energy managers have their work cut out to reduce costs and usage.
In fact, the Carbon Trust recently estimated the annual energy costs for the sector are in excess of £1.3 billion, which translates to 8 million tonnes of carbon emissions a year. 1 With more and more guests becoming astute about the environmental credentials of the hotels they stay at, hoteliers have an opportunity to get ahead of the curve and significantly cut their energy usage.
When done correctly, it can also directly generate revenue without the need to increase sales – in other words, efficiency can make hotelsboth more popular and more competitive.
You can’t manage what you don’t measure
Efficiency is essential for all hotels; with the right data, it is possible for hotel energy managers to identify a series of simple steps that will deliver immediate energy saving results and, importantly, make a long-lasting change.
We have spoken to a number of hotels around the country, but one thing remains the same for all – guests are always the number one priority. Any changes that are made to energy management cannot have a negative impact on the experience and comfort of guests.
The first step in any case is to understand the current levels of energy use, especially on large estates. Many hotels are either not set up to track what energy is being used, or have out-of-date systems that are not fit for purpose.
The good news is that it has never been easier or cheaper to get live energy data. Real-time, granular energy monitoring systems like our PowerNow platform can provide information on energy consumption down to an individual asset level. This information is then translated into a simple, visual explanation of efficiency opportunities.
For example, one hotel discovered that their out of hours cleaning teams were turning all the lights on as they entered the building, only switching lights off as they completed each floor. This served as a way of communicating which floors had been cleaned, but for the business, resulted in an inflated energy bill. The hotel reviewed their contract with the cleaning company to include an energy management policy, and the cleaners have since developed a new way of tracking their progress around the building.
Automating efficiency measures
Hotels around the UK vary when it comes to their power requirements and buildings portfolio, but in every case people pose a challenge. Whether that is guests turning up the heating and ventilation in their room, or staff using electric heaters to dry their clothes, implementing behavioural changes in a hotel setting is tricky.
While behavioural changes like the cleaners improving the way they track their movements around a hotel are important, they can only go so far.
With lighting being one of the biggest consumers of energy in hotels, quick wins like switching to LED lights can help make savings of up to 50 percent. 2
Another more long-term solution is to reassess the use of heating and ventilation, which is in fact the single biggest consumer of energy in hospitality. All hotels have two very distinctive heating zones; communal areas which customers walk through and private rooms where guests are likely to spend more time.
This gives managers the opportunity to set up two separate timers that work around the movement of guests, ensuring energy is not wasted. If a hotel is large, it’s a good idea to set up individual heating zones which allow managers to control the temperature of different parts at any one time.
To reduce energy waste, hotel managers should focus more on heating or cooling bedrooms and lounge areas where guests spend more time, and worry less about corridors which guests walk through briefly and kitchens, which are naturally warmer.
Get rewarded for flexible energy management
There is a further step that can help unlock big energy savings. Once it is clear where and when energy is being used, hotel energy managers can explore opportunities to adjust when energy is being consumed. Moving the time at which certain activities and processes take place to avoid peak hours can make energy as much as 20 times less expensive.
Better yet, hotels that can be flexible with their energy usage can be rewarded through Demand Side Response (DSR) schemes. DSR creates an excellent opportunity for hotels to earn revenue whilst supporting the National Grid in times of peak demand. One of the simplest ways hotels can achieve this is by shifting or reducing their energy consumption at times when demand is at risk of being higher than supply available on the Grid.
For example, any flexibility that can be introduced into energy intensive processes like heating swimming pools, which one of our customers found they could pause briefly without disturbing the guest experience, offers revenue-generating opportunities. In this case, revenue is generated either through energy cost savings, or by selling any excess energy directly back to the grid.
Hotels that start by taking control of their energy data are well on the way to a series of transformations, one change at a time.
It is not just a potential change that might help – it’s a necessary one.
1 Carbon Trust, Hotels and the hospitality industry, https://bit.ly/2UgVD3H
2 Carbon Trust, Hotels and the hospitality industry