This article is part one of a three-part series on energy management.
As the Internet of Things continues to advance, so does the intelligence related to energy management in hotels. Having better control of devices, such as sensors, thermostats and lighting, provides data to a centralized control mechanism, which offers smarter decisions based on advancing algorithmic capabilities, said Felicite Moorman, CEO of Stratis.
“This automation benefits hoteliers in many ways,” she said. “From a reduction of net operating costs to rebates and incentives for green initiatives and marketing campaigns, energy is at the forefront for not only hoteliers, but utilities, municipalities, business travelers and consumers alike. The necessary technology upgrades are less expensive than they once were and can provide ‘technology as an amenity’—ultimately improving the guest experience as opposed to inhibiting it.”
Because more energy-management systems can be operated in the cloud, that allows the systems to be controlled and managed from anywhere, said Jerry Dallaire, owner of Custom Energy Solutions. “This allows for systems to be user-friendly and easily accessible—all beneficial things when your engineering department has a high turnover rate,” he said. “The more automated a system is, the less work your staff has to do.”
As more hardware is incorporated into hotel rooms to automate energy usage, many hotels are using dynamic software in rooms, as well. These types of automated software will learn about the room environment and make decisions on their own, not by depending on triggers or inputs by hotel staff or other systems, said Michael Serour, director of sales for Verdant Environmental Technologies. “By operating exactly as it should because the system is completely automated, the system is keeping guests happy,” he said. “Guest comfort is at the forefront and the system is saving money and energy because there is no human error or other systems’ errors impacting the results.”
Energy continues to be the second largest expenditure faced by hoteliers, said John Tavares, director of business development for Inncom by Honeywell. Energy savings can add up quickly and in some cases, can reach as much as 30-percent savings of the energy consumed in guestrooms. “Energy savings become additional profit, which can significantly impact the value of a property,” he said.
Tavares uses the simple example that a large urban hotel that is able to reduce its energy spending by $100,000 a year can see its valuation go up by more than $1 million.
Beyond the financial savings for hoteliers, energy management is also about creating guest comfort and satisfaction. Guests want comfortable rooms that require minimal or no interaction with controls. If the energy-management system is intuitive and simple to adjust to individual preferences, the guest will be even more satisfied. “Energy-management systems are designed and maintained to provide that level of comfort [and] the guest will be delighted,” Tavares said.
The automation of energy systems can help guests before they even realize there is a problem, Dallaire said. “Maybe a room air conditioning system isn’t working correctly. The system will send an alert to hotel staff so it can be fixed while the guest is away from the room, before the problem is even recognized.”
The occupancy sensors can wirelessly link the in-room energy system to a housekeeper’s device to find out if the room is occupied—all to avoid disturbing the guest, said William Fizer, president of Lodging Technology. “All of the automation requires less interaction with the hotel staff, allowing for a more relaxing visit in the hotel,” he said.