Hotels in the UK start their peak season in summer as in most countries worldwide. A time of high consumption peaks, maintenance problems to solve, and loads of customers to whom to give the best service. This post, written by an energy manager expert in hotels, Ion Irañeta, Energy Manager Group 3E will give us some keys to understanding what to do this summer to improve the energy performance of your hotel.
Why Energy Management in Hotels
There are three main reasons why the hotel sector should bet (and fast) on quality energy management:
1. Maintaining Leadership in Tourism
Energy management is a key aspect of a sector that has been able to attract over 40 million foreign tourists to the UK in 2018. However, in 2021 this number dropped to 6.4 million while the country restrictions slowly loosened after Covid. If hotels were simply to achieve a 5% reduction in energy consumption (and 10% in water consumption) globally, for example, the economic savings generated would further position the sector as a world leader, one of the most important sectors in terms of GDP.
2. The Uncertainty of Energy Prices
In recent years, the cost of energy has been growing (especially electricity) with the expectation that it will continue to do so, which led some hotel establishments (not all) to take measures to reduce their vulnerability to the price of energy.
3. The need to Increase Profits
With the inclusion in the sector of new competitors (tourist flats, low-cost hotel chains, etc.) now more than ever hoteliers are reviewing their operating costs to the minimum level of detail.
How Hotels Consume Energy
10% of the operating cost of a hotel is on energy. And how does the building consume this energy? With the following graph you will see it clearer:
The use of air conditioning systems, consumption in kitchens, sanitary hot water (DHW) and refrigeration represents more than 50% of energy consumption in a hotel. This is followed by the consumption related to office equipment, ventilation and lighting.
In general, in European hotels, air conditioning is clearly the main source of energy consumption while heating needs are somewhat lower. On the other hand, an average European hotel has its highest energy consumption in sanitary hot water (DHW) and heating, followed by expenditure on refrigeration and lighting.
Therefore, energy efficiency is a made-to-measure project, it can be used as a tool to improve the competitiveness of a strategic sector for the economic development of a country as well as to improve the competitiveness of each organization and become more competitive.
What does an Energy Manager do in a Hotel?
As we deal with major hotel companies, and multinationals with hotels in various countries or regions, we find that beyond tracking the “global” consumption of the hotel, they are interested in sub-monitoring.
It consists of measuring in real-time and monitoring the different buildings of the hotel, the different floors or reaching excellence, and the rooms. And, at the same time, collect energy data in areas such as laundry, kitchen, event rooms …
Often, hotel managers want all this information to be processed internally by the employees themselves, for the sake of cost savings and data confidentiality. Then the maintenance technicians, often already overloaded with functions, begin to devote time to a task that does not interest them, that often does not satisfy them or that they even are not prepared for it. The initial idea of cost savings quickly turn into increased stress and deterioration of maintenance.
On the other hand, optimal energy management of facilities does not mean capturing hundreds or even thousands of data on a computer without a pre-defined strategy; having energy data “just to store them” can have serious consequences for your business if ignored altogether. This can cost you to lose savings opportunities if the company’s objectives are not clear.
Hotel establishments, therefore, need to monitor their facilities in real-time: it is not only about electricity consumption, but also the consumption of natural gas (or diesel) as well as water. And to do so, they will need:
- Energy experts (not maintenance).
- Appropriate technological tools.
That is why the figure of the energy manager is key in the hotel sector. And, many times, it is an external energy manager because we are the ones who can quickly and efficiently bring this added value and execute the work, as we do in Grupo3E in our client’s hotels.
Basic and Necessary Energy Analysis in a Hotel
Within the information we collect and analyse for our clients, there are a number of energy data and analyses that are essential for a hotelier.
A good example is to be able to know the passive consumption of the hotel, that is to say, to know the consumption when there is not a single guest or when the hotel is closed for maintenance/remodelling work for example. Or, by zones, when the kitchens or laundry are not working, for example at three o’clock in the morning.
From there, through big data methods and data analysis, important information is provided such as energy consumption per building, energy consumption per floor or even per room.
For a hotel company, being able to find out the consumption in each city provides very useful information to differentiate the costs of each installation.
Once you have basic information like the previous one and bear in mind that hotels register their client entries and exits, you can know at all times the energy consumption for each client, separating this ratio according to the period of the year that is treated logically.
Isn’t that enough? You can fine-tune as much as you like, distinguishing the consumption of different rooms according to their orientation, in order to first reserve the rooms that have the lowest energy cost for the company (which will be different depending on the time of year). Or in certain hotels, the guests will be grouped in nearby rooms, to minimize thermal losses. Or guests will be placed in rooms near/away from the laundry/kitchen, depending on the time of year, etc.
A Real Example of Energy Manager Value in Hotels
In order to know 100% of the behaviour of an installation, it is also necessary to use a certain number of hours in the hotel. Another reason to have an expert energy manager is as it will help the hotel, as in the following real example.
Being an energy manager in a hotel, Grupo 3E realized that if certain rooms were occupied, electricity consumption was 9.5% lower than with other rooms, when they all have the same surface area, same orientation, and same air conditioning system …
What happened then? Some rooms were located right next to the stairs, so all customers walked down the 3/4/5 floors. In contrast, the other rooms were located next to the elevator, so most customers used it several times a day, with the increase in electricity consumption that entailed.
The importance of Data
Grupo 3E often observes how there are facilities in which everything is and works in the same way as at the time the hotel was inaugurated, simply because there is no precise information to make decisions.
The return on investment of a project is not known, due to the lack of detailed information. Since we do not have meters, we have to estimate variables that are not always easy to quantify.
That is why it is essential to achieve a certain level of monitoring detail and high control. Thus, everything is simpler, and the probability of error will be small.
This is the time when you can answer questions as basic as the following:
- Is it convenient to install sensors in the bathrooms of the reception? and in the corridors of the 5th floor?
- What happens if we lower the level of night lighting on the west side of the hotel? What if we program it to disconnect it at dawn?
- Is it worth installing Chrono thermostats in all the rooms? And in the rooms on the 5th floor?
- How much did we really save with the installation of a condensing boiler? And if we install another one in another hotel, how much will we save?
- Is it worth heating the DHW tank overnight?
- Do thermostatic valves save energy in rooms facing north?
- What percentage of DHW consumption is covered by solar energy?
- What is the economic cost of the laundry? Is it worth outsourcing the service?
- How much does our photovoltaic installation improve when there is maintenance?
- How much did LED lighting save in rooms facing north?
In the end, the success or failure of a hotel energy efficiency project depends on whether it achieves the expected savings in the design phase. The measurement and verification of savings in a hotel project generates trust regarding the profitability of the implemented solution and, therefore, increases transparency amongst all the agents involved in the project.
To find out more, contact Grupo3E, experts in hotel energy management.
This article is an adaptation of the original published by Grupo3E in the magazine Energetica21 (author Ion Irañeta, Energy Manager in Grupo3E).