[Part 2] Energy Efficiency: Use Less

Click here to read [Part 1] Energy Savings: Commodity Procurement

In the current economic climate, hotels and conference centers find themselves searching for new ways to reduce operating expenses more than ever before. The hospitality industry, like any other commercial enterprise, is driven largely by operating margins.

According to a recent EnergyStar report, hotels in the United States spend close to $4 billion on energy each year. Given that energy costs will only continue to increase, reducing energy expenditures has become a viable way to reduce overall expenses.

Hospitality properties can decrease energy expenditures in three different ways:

  1. By engaging in commodity procurement measures to reduce the cost of electricity
  2. By increasing energy efficiency to reduce energy usage
  3. By encouraging the development of sustainable day-to-day behaviors

We’re going to go tackle these energy saving ideas in this three part series. Here is the second part:

Energy Efficiency: Use Less

Taking measures to promote energy efficiency allows buildings to use less energy to perform the same tasks. For example, installation of an energy management system allows a hospitality property to reduce energy usage while still providing heating and cooling for guests.

In commercial buildings, HVAC costs make up approximately 47 percent of total energy usage. Decreasing the amount of energy needed to heat and cool will translate into substantially lower utility bills.

Energy Management Systems Could Pay for Themselves in Three Years

Because the majority of hospitality properties cannot risk compromising occupant comfort, the key is to integrate an energy management system that controls the climate in unoccupied rooms. When a room is unoccupied, an energy management system will reduce the consumption of energy and cut utility costs by controlling the run time of the HVAC system.

With current energy management technology, property owners see energy reductions ranging from 20 percent to 45 percent and find that systems typically pay for themselves in three years or less. By installing technology that gives the same output while consuming less energy, hotels cut costs while maintaining the expected level of service.

While many hoteliers have examined energy management technologies, those actually implementing strategies to significantly reduce energy costs are in the minority. Investing in energy management technology now will advance energy savings and improve long-term P&L performance through reduced energy consumption.

Unsure About Where to Start?

Unsure about where to start? Consider communicating with a green technology vendor to find an ESCO partner. When you contract with an ESCO — or energy service company— they will identify energy-savings improvements that can be paid with savings.

Though ESCOs that work in the hospitality industry exist, it’s a niche market. Many ESCOs only entertain multi-million dollar projects; however, vendors may be able to point you to an ESCO that will be appropriate for your energy goals.

Alternatively, for tools to begin the process of selecting and working with an ESCO, visit the Energy Services Coalition web site.

For those unsure if they have the capital to deploy an energy management system, consider this: some developers of energy management systems will provide the technology at no up-front cost, and take payments from the energy savings. Additionally, government incentives may be available to help fund the cost.

You can begin your search at DSIRE’s (Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency) web site — a comprehensive database of information on state and federal efficiency incentives.

Tell Us What’s Holding You Back

Like “paying less,” “using less” has both positive financial and environmental effects. Increased energy efficiency reduces a property’s carbon footprint — and utility bill. While many hoteliers have examined energy management technologies, those actually implementing strategies to reduce energy costs are in the minority.

If you’ve considered taking measures to reduce energy expenditures but have not yet acted, what’s holding you back? Tell us in the comments.

Gerrit Reinders is executive vice president for Sales & Marketing at Telkonet. For more information, e-mail Gerrit or follow Telkonet on Twitter @Telkonet.

Image taken by Satoru Kikuchi on Flickr.

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