Energy Management Systems can help hotels save big on energy bills, but how do hoteliers go about measuring whether or not their investment will pay off?
“The difficulty comes [in] how do they know what [energy] they were using before? We do degree day analysis reports using one of our engineers. It’s the Department of Energy-approved method of determining energy savings”, said Chris Pieper, director of sales and marketing at Evolve Guest Controls. “
Most of these EMSs can range anywhere from $300-$600 per room depending on what you want to have in the room,” said John Gallant, president and CEO of WiSuite USA. “Most property owners have made a financial decision—if we can get ROIs under five years, it’s worth the investment.”
How long that return on investment takes can also depend on the hotel’s local area. “If there’s a local utility rebate, that can bring the time on my ROI down even further,” said Gallant. “Throughout the United States, every utility company has different rates. Here in New York you’re paying a higher cost per kilowatt than in Michigan. The Northeast is high compared to the Midwest. California is high.”
EMSs can also hold down costs by making maintenance more efficient. “Our system is recording the run hours of the unit by the second. If we say after 200 hours runtime, that’s when we want to set our filter change, we can create reports for our maintenance staff [saying] that maybe these are the rooms that are occupied the most,” said Gallant.“That’s proactive maintenance. Rather than having to go and switch out 300 filters, we might need 200, because the other units haven’t run as much.”
EMS data can also make comparing multiple properties and multiple climate control systems easier. “We can actually show the property owner, these are your top 20 energy hogs, so maybe that’s the age of the equipment, maybe you want to upgrade those,” Gallant said. “Some properties will have brand A, B and C in there; we can give them data on that.”
Tying energy management to your PMS
New Energy Management Systems have the ability to talk to Property Management Systems, which could one day make it easier for hoteliers to customize their guests’ experience.
“We have the ability to interface with the PMS, so upon guest check-in and guest check-out, our system is capturing that data,” said John Gallant, president and CEO of WiSuite USA. “So when we check in at that front desk, the network sends a signal that the guest is coming up and cools the room. By the time we walk into the room, cool air is going to be blowing set to 72 degrees. If the guest wants to turn it down, he or she has the ability to do that; so while the guest has rented the room, they have full control of the thermostat. When we check out, a signal goes out to put the room in energy-savings mode.”
Because the hotel does not have to wait for housekeeping to turn the climate control system down, the hotel can save significantly on energy bills. In the future, however, it may be possible to use the data collected from the PMS to tailor the guest experience as well.
“When we see check-in/check-out data from the PMS, we do not get any details about the guests,” said Gallant. “We’re just seeing, ‘Guest checks in—guest checks out.’ We don’t know who checked into the property.
“Hoteliers can ask us, ‘One of our VIP guests likes this set [temperature] point,’” Gallant continued. “There’s a lot of data that we’re collecting off these units; it’s how properties want to utilize that data.”
“We have the ability to interface with the PMS, so upon guest check-in and guest check-out, our system is capturing that data.”
John Gallant, president and CEO, WiSuite USA
By Adam Leposa
Hotel and Motel Management