Smart technology can save energy, increase guest comfort

This article is part one of a three-part series on energy management.

The first step for a hotel to become more energy efficient is to identify and understand the property’s energy-consuming systems. With energy typically being the second highest operating expense in a hotel, there are a lot of opportunities. One of the easiest ways to be more energy efficient is to not use energy when it’s not needed.

“The largest consumer of energy in the guestroom is the [heating, ventilation and air conditioning] equipment,” said Tom Woodruff, GM of Inncom, a division of Honeywell. “While the biggest savings can be achieved by turning off the unit for the room, this may cause the most guest dissatisfaction as a guest checks into a room that is less than the ideal temperature or when guests return to their room and find it too cold or too hot.”

If the in-room thermostat is networked with the hotel’s property-management system, the property can save even more by having wider temperature bands when a room is unrented and unoccupied, Woodruff said. Networked energy-management systems consistently reduce guestroom energy consumption 20 percent to 30 percent.

Incorporating smart technology that knows when rooms have become unoccupied and automatically scales back the heat or AC is a great way to significantly cut your electric bill, said Michael Serour, VP of sales for Verdant Environmental Technologies. “Occupancy detection-based thermostats have been around for a while now but what’s new is the intelligence that’s been incorporated in order to save energy without compromising guest comfort,” he said.

Communication Between Systems

The most effective new technologies today are those that focus on using the information that is generated through a hotel building’s systems, Woodruff said. By just monitoring energy-consuming systems, properties can reduce energy costs and conserve human capital. “Identifying where potential high-priority guestroom equipment problems are and dispatching the resources to correct them prior to a guest experiencing them delivers a better guest experience,” he said.

A property needs to be able to see what is happening in real time, said Chad Burow, director of sales and marketing for Telkonet. “It is important for hoteliers to have a real-time view of data and analytics,” he said.

Installing EMS software components that provide real-time data in an easy-to-understand and intuitive manner is important. In addition to data and analytics, being able to integrate with the PMS and create alerts and seasonal profiles is important, Burow said.

A property engineer can easily and quickly run a series of reports with a mouse click and gain a detailed understanding of HVAC run times, duty cycles, etc. “Combine this feature with alerts, and you now have the means to address equipment issues before they become failures, resulting in more savings and efficient use of manpower,” Burow said.

Certain energy platforms can address all energy-consuming devices in a guestroom. Combined with a wide array of third-party integrations, like door locks, lights, minibars and shades, hoteliers now have the ability to implement a full energy-management strategy as well as a guestroom automation toolbox to enhance the guest experience, Burow said.