Hotels and Motels

Many factors impact the profitability of running a lodging facility, including occupancy rate, cost of labor, and a host of operating expenses. While some of these factors are out of management's control, there are certainly ways to manage energy costs. On average the cost of energy accounts to only 3% to 5% of the total operating expenses, but that can sometimes be reduced by up to 20% by implementing the right energy saving measures.

As these pie charts show, a typical hotel's electric use is heavily tilted toward lighting (55%) and space conditioning (28%). The miscellaneous other (9%) can be challenging to work with, but might include elevators, vending machines, entertainment and office equipment. Food service (5%) is usually a small electricity consumer but should be checked for obvious opportunities like reducing preheat times and maintaining proper temperature settings on cooking and refrigeration equipment.

Hotels and motels that use natural gas may have some potential for savings by evaluating their hot water use since it's typically a large percentage user of natural gas (about 30%, or more with an in-house laundry). In some cases, the water temperature can be lowered, or if there is recirculating hot water, the recirculating pump hours can be reduced. Flow restricting devices can be installed on faucets, and low-flow shower heads can reduce how water use by the showers. One of the largest users of hot water in the hospitality industry is for the laundry for washing and drying guest linens and towels. Many companies have gone to outsourcing this function, viewing it outside their core business, so don't be surprised if you come across one with no laundry facilities.

Another simple measure that many hotels have implemented is replacing inefficient incandescent room lamps with more efficient compact fluorescents. These have almost 10 times the life and cost 1/4 to 1/3 less to operate. Another popular lighting improvement is replacing incandescent exit lamps with more efficient models. These lighting improvements can have as little as a few months payback period and are considered the low hanging fruit of energy upgrades.

Controlling heating and cooling costs are another place to look for easy improvements. A sign politely asking guests to turn off lights and adjust thermostat setting when leaving the room can be quite effective. A common energy improvement is installation of an energy management system that monitors room occupancy and minimizes energy use. The challenge with these tends to be having someone on staff who can operate it properly. Unmanaged, these systems can frustrate maintenance staff who, bothered with hot calls and cold call complaints, override them.

Facilities with exterior guest room doors should be certain the weatherstripping is checked regularly and that the doors seal properly. For larger hotels with lobbies, adding a vestibule or some kind of air curtain can be expensive, but when you think that so much of the building's energy goes to heating and cooling, it might pay off.

When you enter the building, feel for air blowing in or out of the building indicating the building pressure is out of balance. Also check that the doors seal well then they close and that there is no large gap where they meet. Some changes are low-cost to no-cost, like adding some weatherstripping or adjusting the doors. Others will take professional help to analyze. As an auditor, you can be helpful by calling attention to problem areas.

In larger hotels, the major energy systems are usually in a central location referred to as the "boiler room" and include one or multiple boilers and chillers.

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