Operators have been forced to look for significant savings in energy usage as prices continue to rise above inflation. But using the best technologies is the easiest way to save money and reduce your carbon footprint, says Ross Bentley
With energy prices set to continue to rise above the rate of inflation for the foreseeable future, it's simple good business sense to continue to search for power usage savings.
The debate has moved on. Whereas a few years ago ‘green' technology was a nice-to-have, now the need to save money makes it a business necessity for operators.
"They understand a commercial proposition that not only reduces a carbon footprint but, crucially, delivers quick, significant and continued savings," says Mark Sait, managing director of hospitality consultancy SaveMoneyCutCarbon.
"Saving money and being green are two sides of the same coin. Using technologies to cut energy and water consumption is a triple win for the hospitality sector. Hotels, bed and breakfasts and restaurants making the move will cut energy bills, reduce carbon taxes and cut their carbon footprint."
Here are 10 tips to help you reduce your energy consumption.
1 HVAC matters
Heating, cooling and ventilation (HVAC) is the biggest energy drain in any commercial building, but especially in the 24/7 operations of the hotel environment.
A range of technologies are available to enable hoteliers to automatically manage in-room controls so they can be turned down to a minimum default setting when guests are not in their rooms.
Consultancy SaveMoneyCutCarbon uses a combination of wireless infra-red body heat sensors and entry door monitors to tell if a guest is at home. If they are not, the controls are switched to a money-saving, energy-saving mode after 30 minutes.
Intelligent guest control Radisson Blu Hotel Cardiff commissioned SaveMoneyCutCarbon to install and monitor an intelligent control system in its 215 guest rooms to reduce energy consumption.
In the first three months of the trial the hotel cut guest room HVAC energy use by up to 45%.
The hotel expects to achieve a saving of £35,000 a year and to recoup the cost of installation within 14 months.
2 Monitor usage By using energy management â¨software, operators can see where energy is being used in a hotel at any point in time. This detailed information allows them to manage electricity consumption and cut wastage.
Hotel management company Redefine BDL uses a web-based system that takes half-hourly electricity billing data and converts â¨it into a graphical profile to identify power â¨consumption over a 24-hour period.
According to group property manager Mark Dempsie, the system costs £1 a day and â¨payback is normally within the first month.
Managers at the DoubleTree by Hilton Dundee hotel have been trialling this software over the past year, and consumption savings of 10% have been recorded consistently throughout the year.
3 Don't just look at upfront costs Trevor Burke, managing director of Exclusive Ranges, urges operators not to focus entirely on the upfront cost of a product, but also to consider the cost of using it across its entire life cycle.
He says it is often the case â¨that sophisticated, energy-efficient kit can be more expensive initially, but that operators will claw back this money as they save on day-to-day energy costs.
The company supplies high-end cooking equipment to restaurants such as Caprice Holdings, and Burke says that induction-powered products are far more energy efficient than conventional gas or electric hobs.
He says: "If you are buying a quality product, such as induction-powered equipment, there will be a higher upfront cost, but you are committing yourself to making an investment to reduce day-to-day running costs."
4 Efficient refrigeration The chilling cost of inefficient refrigeration has been laid bare by the â¨Carbon Trust, which estimates that up to 20% could be shaved off energy bills by paying closer attention to good practice and regular maintenance.
Considering that refrigeration can account for up to half of a caterer's total energy use, that equates to significant savings.
What's crucial is having the data to pinpoint weak points. A growing number of catering operations are turning to temperature monitoring technology, such as the IMC Group's IceSpy range.
According to business development manager Gordon Muscat, they are primarily driven by the regulatory pressures to ensure â¨safety and quality, but an additional benefit is the ability to identify where excessive energy is being used, either due to â¨a technical fault, unstable â¨fluctuations or because the temperature has been set unnecessarily low.
5 Outsource IT systems By outsourcing IT systems to cloud hosting providers such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google and Salesforce.com, hotels and hospitality companies of all sizes can benefit from hosting their IT in the most technologically advanced facilities in the world.
Co-founder of IT consultancy Cloudreach, Pontus Noren, says because of the giant scale of their infrastructure, these large providers benefit from economies of scale that allow them to have the most advanced, energy-â¨saving systems available. That enables them to pass these cost savings on to their clients.
Noren adds: "Just as very few hotels generate their own electricity or filter their own water supply, it doesn't make sense for them to produce or support their own computing infrastructure."
Sucking up energy in the cloud Hotel management group Kempinski has a portfolio of more than 70 five-star hotels across more than 30 countries. In early 2010, the company put together a five-year plan â¨to streamline IT within the business and, working with consultancy Cloudreach, decide to move its corporate and shared applications to a hosted service managed by Amazon Web Services.
While there are no figures for savings to energy consumption yet, Kempinski's senior vice-president for IT, Jeremy Ward, calculates tha over the whole five-year plan, there will be 40% saving over the costs of a comparable solution using a traditional IT model.
6 Boiler efficiency
Hotels can also save energy through technologies that improve boiler â¨combustion, resulting in lower fuel consumption and a substantial decrease in â¨their carbon footprint.
These no-maintenance solutions are installed without the need to shut down a boiler system and can deliver proven energy savings.
Boiler fuel conditioning uses ceramic magnets attached to fuel pipes that ensure that the amount of unspent fuel is minimised and that combustionâ¨efficiency is maximised.
7 Water management Water is one of the best targets for rapid energy savings.
Eco shower heads, eco taps and tap aerators, such as those produced by manufacturer Hansgrohe, may not be the most-sophisticated of technologies, but they can be money-saving miracles. They work by mixing water with air but make sure not to affect quality.
Some hotel showers can use 35 litres of water per minute, which can be reduced to â¨9 litres per minute. Hot water tap flow-rates can be reduced from 18 litres to 5 litres per minute. That means savings in water heating and the cost of water itself if a property is metered.
Flushed with success The 21 hotels within the Puma Hotels' Collection have achieved savings of £100,000 inside eight months from a £65,000 investment in water-saving technologies. Equally importantly, no impact on guest satisfaction rates has been reported.
The company chose taps and shower heads from the Hansgrohe range, installedâ¨by consultancy SaveMoneyCutCarbon, and these resulted in a 50% reduction in water use and heating costs.
Financial and commercial director at Puma Hotels Paul Nisbett says: "The most satisfying part is the fact that after recouping our investment, we will continue to save money month on month."
8 Pump it up Pumps that circulate hot and cold water around a property are top of the energy-saving list as they run continuously. When uncontrolled, pumps typically operate at 100% around the clock, but their energy usage can be tempered by installing a level of intelligence to the motor or pump.
This can help by reducing the amount of electricity required to power the pump and also regulate the pressure the pump is working to by responding to demand rather than just running in 'off' or 'on' mode.
The load on a pump can also be reduced at low points in the day, such as the early hours of the morning, when fewer guests are likely to want to use water.
9 Kitchen know-how According to the Carbon Trust, around 25% of the energy used in catering is expended in the preparation, cooking and serving of food. By far the largest proportion of this energy is consumed by cooking apparatus, and much of this is wasted through excessive use and poor utilisation.
In a busy kitchen, staff have little time to think about energy saving, but some technologies can help improve working practices. Control technology, which automatically switches off or turns down cooking equipment that is not being used, can help.
Pan sensors are available for gas and electric hobs that turn the hob off or down after pan removal. These can save about 5% of the cooking energy in a typical kitchen, says the trust. You can also minimise oven door openings by fitting easily visible oven thermometers, which also help with accurate cooking times.
Induction hobs, combi-steam/convection ovens, microwaves and efficient deep-fat â¨fryers can all help cut energy usage.
Fans of energy efficiency There's the potential to cut energy usageâ¨wherever you look in a commercial kitchen.
Demand Controlled Ventilation (DCV), such as the Cheetah system by Quintex, has the ability to achieve savings of up to 80% in fan energy usage. The system uses sensor technology to detect cooking activityâ¨levels and lower ventilation fan speeds accordingly, so that extract rates are matched to cooking demands, hence optimising energy use.
At DC Warewashing, a firm that produces commercial dish-washing machines, they point to their premium range, which has double-skinned and insulated wash tanks to reduce heat loss. The tanks are smaller than typical machines, and the firm says they could save up to 13,000 litres of water a year compared to traditional wash tank models.
At Exclusive Ranges, managing director Trevor Burke espouse the virtues of induction cooking.
He says that up to 70% of the energy used to boil a pan of water on a conventional cooker is lost, whereas an induction cooker uses 90% of its energy. He calculates that a kitchen will see a reduction of energy use of 30-40% with the introduction of induction equipment.
10 Shine a light on energy savings LED lighting technology has made massive strides over the past five years, with a wide range of quality long-life, low-maintenance solutions for hotel and restaurant environments - from energy-saving bulbs to spotlights, tubes and capsules.
Philips remains a market leader and the company continues to invest heavily in research and development to ensure the best quality of light while delivering energy reductions of â¨up to 90%.
Mark Sait, managing director of â¨SaveMoneyCutCarbon, says: "For 24/7 areas of a property, LED lighting is a no-brainer and can be enhanced further with smart controls such as motion sensors, daylight sensors and occupancy sensors."