There are many opportunities for lodging owners and managers to cut operational costs by investing in energy efficiency without sacrificing guest comfort. These tips are appropriate for both full- and limited-service lodging establishments and offer a great opportunity to start improving your bottom line. Your guests may not practice good energy conservation behavior, but you can!
1. Replace incandescent lamps. A quick survey of your facility may reveal incandescent lamps lurking in downlights, sconces, table lamps, task lights, and wall washers. In spaces such as kitchens and offices, you can achieve significant energy savings by upgrading incandescents to LEDs in light fixtures that are on for two or more hours per day. Replacing a 60-watt incandescent bulb with a 9-watt CFL can save about $90 over its 40,000-hour rated life at an average cost of $0.10 per kilowatt-hour.
2. Consider occupancy sensors and room automation. Lighting occupancy sensors in guest bathrooms are key! Replace the standard bathroom light switch and incorporate a 1-watt light-emitting diode (LED) night-light.
Meeting rooms and storage area spaces are also ideal locations for occupancy sensors. Wall-mounted sensors cost between $30 and $90 uninstalled, whereas ceiling-mounted sensors can provide greater coverage area for large rooms and cost between $40 and $120 uninstalled. Standard occupancy sensors can save an estimated $0.05 to $0.20 per square foot per year, with payback periods as quick as six months.
Occupancy-based digital thermostats switch the HVAC system between occupied and unoccupied mode by detecting whether people are in the room. When the room is unoccupied, the setpoint temperature can be adjusted to save energy and returned to the standard setting when guests return. These thermostats can work with packaged terminal air conditioners or central cooling systems, and yield an estimated average annual energy savings of 38%.
3. Upgrade to an ozone laundry system. Ozone laundering systems, which use cold water, offer big savings by using much less water, energy, and detergent. They have a projected life span of 20 years and can reach payback in one to two years. Apple Farm Inn and Suites of San Luis Obispo, California, installed an ozone system to serve its 104-guestroom facility. Savings of $0.04 per pound of laundry were achieved, resulting in annual savings of $22,517 and a 7.7-month payback.
4. Consider pool covers and pool heat pump water heaters. Pools are a hidden cost in many hotel budgets—most hotels simply don’t know how much it costs to operate their pool. Indoor pool covers typically yield simple payback periods of one year; covers for heated outdoor pools can save 50% to 70% of the pool’s energy use, 30% to 50% of its makeup water, and 35% to 60% of its chemicals.
For deeper savings, dive into air-source heat pump pool heaters (HPPHs)—they can save significant amounts of energy in outdoor pool applications in mild climates. At Gulf World, a marine park in Florida, HPPHs were installed in place of natural gas water heaters on a 1 million–gallon outdoor dolphin pool. The gas heaters cost $8,000 to $10,000 per month to operate. After the switch, Gulf World found that the HPPHs reduced the energy cost by 85%.
5. Improve water heating plant efficiency. Domestic hot water and space heating account for more than 90% of natural gas use in lodging facilities. Consider replacing standard water heaters and boilers with direct-vent, sealed-combustion condensing units with efficiencies higher than 90%. Condensing boilers operate efficiently during periods of low water demand, unlike traditional hot water heaters, and they can also provide space heating. In general, multiple smaller water heaters provide better reliability, effectiveness, and efficiency than one large hot water heater.
Facilities can use HVAC, shower, or laundry-room heat recovery systems to cut hot water expenditures. Hotels can obtain “free” hot water from their cooling and refrigeration equipment by using double-bundled heat exchangers in the chillers or a plate heat exchanger in the condenser-cooling loop. Using gray water heat-recovery equipment with showers saves 50% to 60% of water-heating energy with payback in two years. It also doubles or triples the first-hour capacity of water heaters.