How smart products help hoteliers manage energy usage

Smart locks like those from Assa Abloy Global Solutions can help hoteliers better manage energy in a guestroom. (Assa Abloy Hospitality)

Managing energy usage—and avoiding hefty energy bills—at hotels has become increasingly challenging as new devices enter the market. But as new technology makes hotels “smarter” and guests increasingly seek eco-friendly options, hoteliers have a wide range of options to achieve their goals, limited only by budget and space. 

A hotel’s energy system has to adapt quickly to a variety of circumstances, said Christian Leclerc, general manager at Honeywell—whether or not the room has been rented, if it is currently occupied or if a housekeeper is inside. “The more insight that you can gather in terms of what's going on with the room, the more energy you can save without compromising guest comfort,” he said.

Keeping it Cool

A good energy management system will know if a window or door is open in the guestroom and adjust accordingly, and can even turn off the lights and close the curtains as needed to maximize energy savings, Leclerc said. Honeywell’s IC5 system is an internet of things platform that gives a hotel’s director of engineering full visibility into what is working in a guestroom—and what isn’t. “You can address issues before they affect guests,” he said. For example, Honeywell’s technology includes acoustic sensors that can monitor the sound of the heating, ventilation and air conditioning system and alert management if the unit is starting to deteriorate or needs service.

Whatever technology a hotel selects, said Kenneth Freeman, SVP of demand creation at Legrand, it should be “cost effective to deploy and therefore scalable for retrofit and new-builds.” Legrand’s network of hospitality-focused switches and outlets can connect to a guestroom’s thermostat. “And it's equipped with sophisticated sensors for temperature, air quality, ambient noise [and] occupancy,” he said. These sensors help owners manage the property’s energy more efficiently by offering a more complete overview of the occupancy levels. “That allows them to automate the climate control to match a room's status and ensure optimal comfort throughout the guest’s stay, yet conserving energy when people aren't in the room or between visitors,” he said. 

Some of Legrand’s options utilize weather data and location services to help control energy usage, Freeman said. For example, it is helpful to know when a guestroom on the western side of a hotel in Arizona will be in the most intense sunlight, and if the shades should be remotely lowered, depending on occupancy.  

Locking in Energy

Using a door lock to better control a room’s energy usage has become increasingly popular as locks become more technologically advanced. “When a third-party energy management system is integrated in Assa Abloy’s access management solution, hoteliers can significantly reduce energy usage,” said Nicolás Aznar, president, Americas at Assa Abloy Global Solutions. “When a guest checks in and a key is generated for a specific room, our access management system alerts the third-party system and temperature and light settings are automatically adjusted.” In turn, when the guest leaves the room, thermostats and lighting automatically enter energy savings mode.

Access management systems like Assa Abloy’s update a room’s occupancy status in real time, Aznar added, and when integrated with a third-party system, hoteliers can adjust temperature and lights remotely rather than waiting for a housekeeper to get to each room and make the changes manually. 

“Additionally, the compatibility of our solutions extends to the potential ability to operate on the same network as other systems and amenities,” Aznar said. “By removing the need to invest in additional gateways and routers to set up duplicate networks—which requires a large output of energy—hoteliers can experience significant expense savings while reducing energy usage. 

When smart systems work together, Aznar added, a hotelier gets the benefits of each. “Integrating access management and energy management systems can streamline hotelier functionality while ensuring that hoteliers meet their sustainability goals.”