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The potential savings for hotels and leisure centres are huge

Hotel and leisure customers are placing increasing importance on energy efficiency. But the key is knowing where to cut back and how.

What’s the real difference between a typical energy system and one that’s been designed to cut your energy costs? In the leisure and hotel industry, it can be millions of pounds a year. That’s why more businesses are choosing to install intelligent, energy-efficient options like combined heat and power (CHP) systems.

It’s about thinking smarter

Energy needs vary from site to site. In a hotel, the main consumption areas are heating, hot water (60%) and lighting (25%). In a leisure centre, it’s the pool, air conditioning and ventilation systems.

The good news is that there are lots of innovative ways to reduce energy use, including the human approach. So, start by getting your team involved in things like checking settings and keeping an eye on equipment and systems. You could also ask guests to pass on feedback: Is the site too hot or too cold? Is the pool too warm? It all makes a positive difference.

Understanding energy use

Do you know how much energy are you using right now? Do you even know how to find out? Thankfully in today’s energy conscious market, there are lots of options:

  • Sub-metering – this allows you to see where energy is being used in real time to help you identify potential cost savings
  • An energy management system – this offers closer control and monitoring of building services performance, including the heating, ventilation and air conditioning

With the latter, settings can be changed quickly and easily, which can actually help you reduce costs by 10%. It works by giving you control when the guests are out – so no more leaving the bathroom lights on, and no more air conditioning on max in an empty room.

The potential to save £38m a year

A report last year suggested the hotel sector as a whole could save £38m a year through a variety of energy saving initiatives and investments. That’s £64 per room.

Considering the savings come straight off the bottom line, it also takes the pressure off chasing extra sales in a highly competitive market.

The Carbon Trust estimates that saving 20% on energy actually represents the same bottom line benefit as a 5% uplift in sales. With the right system in place, that 20% will likely be a lot easier to achieve than the 5%.

A 47% price difference

When it comes to leisure centres, a pool will typically use 1,321 kWh/m2/yr of energy and 258 kWh/m2/yr of electricity. But one with efficient energy management will use 573 kWh/m2/yr of energy and 164 kWh/m2/yr of electricity.

At current prices, that works out at a 47% reduction in the price the ‘best in class’ centre pays for its energy versus an average one.

Reduce CO2and increase your brand reputation

The hotel industry should never underestimate people power. With energy saving at the front of everyone’s minds, visitors are keen to see positive steps being taken. To help demonstrate what you’re doing, you could:

  • Display your energy certificates
  • Regularly calculate your carbon footprint, and update your information to show any improvements
  • Keep your customers informed regarding future plans to save energy

When progress plateaus

Accor, which runs Novotel and Ibis, will soon add a calculator to its app to inform guests about the environmental and economic impact of their stay (water consumption, carbon emissions, jobs created or supported).

This follows a survey of 7,000 guests, which showed that two out of three are willing to pay a little more to stay at a hotel that is acting responsibly.

With hundreds of hotels, Accor has a wide-reaching sustainability plan. But even they have admitted that, despite reversing year-on-year rises in energy use, progress has now plateaued.

According to the Accor 2016 sustainability report: “Efforts to optimise existing equipment in hotels (for example fine-tuning machine settings, training staff, fitting LEDs, flow control valves and presence sensors etc.) have run their course, and the decline in energy consumption has slowed down.”

They’re not the only ones. More and more hospitality and leisure businesses are finding themselves in the same position. The low-hanging fruits have been squeezed dry. The mid-level investments, like LED lighting and motion sensors, are working – and yet energy prices and carbon taxes will keep rising. The solution? Spend more to save more.

Future-proofing

Many businesses are now looking at projects involving larger capital investments. They see these as a way to future-proof their operations as energy prices inevitably rise. Given the 24/7 demands, a combined heat and power (CHP) system is an attractive solution.

CHP is recommended by the government as a super-efficient means of creating energy. The units don’t just generate electricity, they actually recover the majority of the heat created in the process, then reuse this to supply heating and hot water for the building.

The Carbon Trust has also highlighted the benefits of CHP systems for sites with high-energy demands, as they significantly help reduce CO2.

Of course, CHP won’t be for every hotel or leisure centre, that’s why you should consider carrying out a feasibility study. But a properly maintained system will ensure long-term savings, as the Crowne Plaza Liverpool is proving.

With a CHP system your bottom line will benefit, you’ll attract new guests and you’ll become more competitive for years to come. Isn’t that what we all want from business?