How can I successfully manage hotel energy use?

Even the most simple tasks will take some sort of planning and when discussing your plans with somebody else you will often hear quoted to you that “by failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail”. This is indeed very true, but unfortunately this wisdom sometimes comes to us far too late and we only learn where we went wrong with hindsight.

If you are new to energy management, deciding where to start can be a daunting task but you should try to forget about “preparing to fail” and try to start out with a positive mindset, after all, there are many helpful guidelines available and numerous companies that can offer expert advice in this area. Careful planning will lead to good energy management and “By succeeding to prepare, you are preparing to succeed”.

Hotel Energy Management

If you are a SME or hotel, a best practice action plan that you could follow is Energy MAP, the Energy Management Action Plan from the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI). This plan has helped many businesses in Ireland be successful in effectively managing their energy use and reducing operating costs. The plan is divided into five key steps or pillars of energy management: Commit, Identify, Plan, Take Action and Review.

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Perhaps the biggest hurdle to overcome when following any energy management plan is gaining staff commitment but once people are on board it becomes much easier to implement energy conservation measures, many of which require very little investment. You will find below some guidelines into how the five pillars of energy management can be applied in your hotel.

Commit 

Energy management is not just for maintenance managers or facility managers and requires wider adoption in order to be successful. Savings of up to 20% have been reported by some hotels by simply changing energy behaviour and this must come from all hotel staff, most of which are responsible for operating or controlling energy using appliances. The hotel energy management must also be on board, lead by example and encourage staff to become involved in the process.

Appoint an Energy Champion to become a figurehead for energy saving activities and to motivate other staff. Establish an Energy Team to assist the Energy Champion and look for volunteers from different hotel areas such as reception, bar & restaurant, kitchen, leisure centre, accommodation, night porter and maintenance. Consider rewards for good implementation of energy saving actions and encourage regular meetings to brainstorm ideas.

Identify 

It is important to become familiar with your energy bills and to develop a knowledge of where your energy is being consumed. Most people will just look at the bottom page of the their energy bill to check what is the total charge or ‘what is the damage?’, but energy bills can also tell you a lot more about energy use in your hotel such as the energy consumed during the day, the energy consumed during the night, weekend use vs weekday energy use and much much more. If you are lucky enough to have an energy management solution installed at your hotel then you may also be able to find out what particular areas are consuming in comparison to others. Area level information can also help focus your energy saving efforts towards significant energy consumers. You should also try to identify energy saving opportunities and staff should always be consulted first for ideas as they probably have the best knowledge of the hotel and possible areas where energy is being wasted.

Plan 

You should now be ready to start planning some energy saving actions or initiatives. If you have already consulted with your staff for ideas then you will probably have the makings of a list of energy saving opportunities. You should next try to set out some objectives and targets, communicating them to everyone involved. Try to set challenging goals without been unrealistic, for example, there is no point setting out to try and reduce energy use in the Leisure Centre by 40% if you have not first identified significant wastage or you have no budget to make changes to the heating or air conditioning plant. Perhaps you should consider starting small by planning to implement two to three ‘low cost’ energy saving actions per hotel area in the first two months of your hotel energy management action plan.

Take Action 

You should try to remember that not everyone working in the hotel will be highly motivated to save energy for the environments sake and many of the staff will have other work priorities such as meeting staff needs or requests. Making energy management more fun and engaging is one way to help all staff remain motivated to carry out energy saving actions. Some hotels have had success by creating an Energy Game, whereby, staff receive recognition for hard work and often rewards for particularly good initiatives. The Energy Champion will be a central figure for organising such games and it helps if he/she is a charismatic person who is capable of creating a friendly & competitive atmosphere.

Review 

It is difficult to know if your plan has successfully delivered energy savings or increased energy awareness without some sort of review. Measuring and monitoring energy use or performance from the start makes it easier to assess if energy saving actions have worked or not. It is essential that the people carrying out the review have the necessary knowledge or received the required training in order to be able to successfully establish if energy use or performance has improved as a result of energy saving actions. For larger sites, it might be worth considering energy sub-metering systems or an energy monitoring system in order to obtain the required data to make the review process possible. If you are thinking about investing in an energy monitoring system for the first time then it is very important that you find out what kind of service is provided with the system. Will it be difficult to extract energy data for analysis? Will advice be provided for measuring and verifying energy saving actions?

Finally, staff will be encouraged to continue with energy management if their success is communicated to everyone and if their hard work is celebrated/rewarded. Some staff might even respond to gentle reminders or notices to try harder if they are falling behind their energy saving targets. In the serious business of energy management most people forget to try and have a bit of fun, afterall, it is the people who work in the hotel who have probably the most influence over whether the energy performance of the hotel goes up or down, and these same people will not be motivated unless they are sufficiently engage’d.

More information on Energy Map can be found on the SEAI website at:-
http://www.seai.ie/energymap

About Wattics
Wattics provide low-cost solutions that help businesses and their staff to engage with energy management and achieve results. We provide innovative energy monitoring solutions complete with a unique energy service level agreement that provides ongoing customer support and expert advice. Many of our clients have changed the way in which they manage their energy and some have achieved energy savings of more than 20%.

If you would like to know more about Wattics and our solutions, please get in touch.
http://www.wattics.com/

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