Reducing energy consumption and using green energy
How to reduce your energy consumption
Analyse your energy consumption
The first step to managing your energy consumption is measuring it. Your main source of data will be your energy bills. Sub-metres can give you a more detailed picture of energy use per area/department. Measuring your baseline energy consumption and tracking it over time will give you insight into your consumption. You’ll also be able to identify energy-saving opportunities and later assess the effectiveness of any measures you take.
Ask your energy provider if they provide a dashboard to measure and monitor your energy consumption. If they don’t, use the data you gather to benchmark your property’s energy performance against industry standards to see how energy efficient it is. You can use the Hotel Carbon Measurement Initiative’s (HCMI) free methodology and tool to calculate the carbon footprint of stayed nights and meetings at your property. Make sure you adjust your measurements for factors like weather, so that you make an accurate comparison between properties that have differing facilities and are exposed to different weather patterns.
Switch to energy-efficient lighting
Incandescent and halogen lights, which are the most commonly used in hotels, are highly energy inefficient – only 20% of the energy is actually converted to light, the remaining 80% is lost as heat.
By switching to more efficient lighting – such as compact fluorescent lights (CFL), fluorescent tube lamps or light emitting diodes (LED) – you can cut energy use by up to 70%. In addition to lower energy consumption, CFLs produce less heat – which can ease demand on air conditioning and further reduce your energy use – while LEDs last up to three times longer than fluorescent bulbs and are easy to recycle*.
* Some light bulbs contain hazardous material like mercury, so it’s important to recycle them rather than throw them in the general trash, where they can end up in landfills.
Implement occupancy-linked controls
Most people behave differently in hotels than in their own homes. Forgetting to turn the lights off is one example. With occupancy-linked lighting control, lights are only switched on in areas that are occupied or in use. There are several occupancy-linked controls that can be used for different scenarios:
A key card system works by switching off the electricity supply of a room when it’s not occupied. Guests simply insert the key card in a wall-mounted device when they enter, and the electricity switches on. When they remove their card and leave the room, the electricity is automatically switched off.
Switching to key card systems and power controls can cut in-room electricity use by up to 30%. However, these systems do have the potential to create significant waste. A typical 200-room hotel has to replace around 12,000 plastic cards per year. To avoid added plastic waste, consider using green key cards. There are multiple options available, including cards made from recycled plastic, biodegradable plastic and even paper.
You can set up timers to switch lights on or off at preset times every day. These can be used in areas that are occupied during the same hours every day, such as restaurants or conference/meeting rooms.
Motion sensors switch lights on when movement is detected, and switch them off after a preset period of inactivity. These are useful in areas where activity is infrequent – such as restrooms in public areas – and can save up to 60% of the energy use of a room.
A photocell switch senses when there is enough natural light and responds by dimming or switching off the lights. There are different types available, depending on the size of the area you want to light.
Adopt a smart temperature management system
Adjusting thermostat settings by just a few degrees can create huge energy savings. Lowering the thermostat by 1ºC in the winter can cut heating energy consumption by 10% – similar savings can be achieved with air conditioning in the summer. You can automate this process by integrating motion- and heat-sensing technology into an energy management thermostat, which automatically lowers a room’s temperature when it’s empty.
Green your energy
One of the most impactful actions you can take in terms of sustainability is to use renewable energy sources. Making the switch will dramatically reduce your operational emissions and – most importantly – when done properly it increases the demand for renewable energy in your area. This in turn stimulates the addition of new renewables to the local power grid, which is crucial because the current supply of renewable energy doesn’t match the global demand for energy. Ultimately, by matching this demand, it will be possible to phase out fossil fuel power.
Unfortunately there are many energy providers that claim their energy is clean and renewable when it isn’t. So there are a few things to keep in mind when choosing renewable energy sources to make sure they’re truly sustainable and contribute to a fossil fuel-free world:
Wherever possible, opt for renewable energy sources that are installed onsite. These have the highest positive impact because they ensure that new clean energy is being added to the grid. The most common examples are solar panels.
If installing onsite isn’t possible, the next best alternative is renewable energy that’s created locally and sold directly to the consumer. The best approach is to find locally-created, new renewable programmes. When investing in renewable energy, be aware that renewable energy certificates (RECs) or guarantees of origin (GOs) from abroad may not contribute to additional renewable energy supply.
In countries or markets where it’s not possible to buy 100% renewable energy, you can still contribute to greening your local energy sources by buying from companies that are working hard to make renewable energy available. Independent sustainability rankings of renewable energy providers can help you understand the impact that buying a certain company’s energy will have, as well as the overall sustainability of the product.
Show travellers what you’re doing
Once you start to implement measures to green your energy and reduce your consumption – or if you’ve already got some in place – you can communicate this to travellers.
Have you implemented any of these practices to save energy or reduce greenhouse gases?
- Bicycle rental
- Bicycle parking
- Electric vehicle charging station
- You use room key card or motion-controlled electricity
- All the windows at your property are double glazed
- At least 80% of your food is sourced locally from your region
- At least 80% of your lighting uses energy-efficient LED bulbs
- 100% renewable energy is used throughout your property
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