Room With a View
by Larry Mundy
September 2006

Hotel Energy Management Systems 101


 
Hotel energy prices have gone through the roof, despite all the extra insulation you stuck up there last year.  In part, this is due to the same sort of price deregulation previously practiced only by street vendors in Istanbul.  Suddenly hoteliers are betting on the spot price of kilowatts to be delivered in July by a company operating out of a friend’s garage in Terre Haute.  There is really little you can do about this, short of striking oil while installing a pylon sign in the parking lot.  Guests will always demand to be heated, cooled, illuminated and entertained in their rooms.

An entire industry has sprung up to hawk energy-efficient devices to hotel owners.  If you are replacing air-conditioners or even light bulbs, it makes excellent sense to choose energy-efficient models.  At the same time, you and I both know that an icemaker offering to produce three more cubes per day for the same power consumption has a payback time of roughly 10,000 years, if your current one is chugging along nicely.

The root problem, friends, is the same as always: your guest.  Having been one of those people on innumerable occasions, I can tell you that guests don’t behave as energy-efficiently in your hotel as they might at home, because they figure “hey, I’m paying for it, I might as well use it.”

There is another entire industry dedicated to fooling your guests, or at least constraining their worst excesses.  But many guests are smarter than these devices.  I have found, for example, that with a quick counterclockwise hand movement I can de-install most shower water restrictors in mere seconds.  I am saving them to string together for a bracelet, as recommended by Martha Stewart.  I know that sophisticated energy sensors are completely fooled by holding a small open flame beneath them, and I credit those hotels that furnish free matches so I can conserve the butane in the disposable lighter I carry for this purpose.  Hotel windows are generally required to open less than the width of an infant’s head, which both conserves energy and keeps deranged rock bands from bouncing TV’s off the sidewalk, but a one-dollar Phillips screwdriver will turn most of these safety devices into floor décor in moments.

Guest-education campaigns don’t help much either.  Many hotels now have four-color tent cards, with pictures of trees and cumulonimbus clouds on a blue sky and cavorting wildlife, that say “Help save the environment.  Let us wash your sheets every other month.”  Inevitably the housekeeper has to dig this soggy card out from under twelve used towels, one of which reeks of Turtle Wax and Armor All because the guest’s car is now sparkling clean.

I confess I am one of those wastrels. I turn the A/C down until icicles form on the ceiling, rechange every portable-electronic battery in my commodious briefcase, rinse-lather-repeat about twelve times, turn on ten thousand watts of lighting, and just generally waste natural resources at a prodigious rate.  I have stoked Residence Inn fireplaces in July while the thermostat is set at "absolute zero."  I have fogged bathroom mirrors so badly that the wheezing little fan takes hours to clear a small spot at one corner.  I have opened windows to feel the sweet sting of a blizzard on my face (and the drapes, and the carpet) while coaxing the heater into fry-eggs-on-the-sidewalk mode.  In short, I am the principal reason hotel energy costs have risen at 110 times the rate of inflation (i.e., at roughly 1.5 times the rate of gas prices at the pump).

Hotels have experienced legal difficulties imposing an “energy surcharge,” partly because it is hard to disclose such a thing through the multiple sales channels now in vogue, and partly because the guest sees that for what it is, an attempt to make additional profit while blaming some unseen outside force.  As dead dinosaurs become more and more scarce, I say it’s time to take the direct route.  Let’s install an electrical meter in every room, just like our guests have at home.  Let’s charge guests directly for their usage, as we do with room-service cheeseburgers and dirty movies.  And let’s make sure it has a large, whirling wheel and some sort of meter that clicks over a ten-digit string of numbers, so the guest can easily see that their children’s children will be freezing in the dark, or that the guest’s desert-area nursing home will someday be cooling its residents by spraying them with tepid water twice a day.  I’m always in favor of the direct approach.



Larry Mundy works for a hotel company in Dallas.  His views are his own, and may differ considerably from those of a sane person."
 
Contact:

Larry Mundy
LJM2804@yahoo.com

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Also See: Fuscia Floors and Lime-Green Tubs; Not Everyone Wants a “Home-like” Atmosphere in a Hotel / Room With a View - a Column by Larry Mundy / September 2006
Your Hotel Laundry Room / Room With a View - a Column by Larry Mundy / September 2006
Your Hotel Parking Lot / Room With a View - a Column by Larry Mundy / August 2006
Room Service / Room With a View - a Column by Larry Mundy / August 2006
Redecorate Your Elevator Cabs, Every Fall / Room With a View - a Column by Larry Mundy / August 2006
The Basic Hotel Shower-Tub Combination, a Relic? / Room With a View - a Column by Larry Mundy / August 2006
Different Views of Customer Service - The Airline “Passenger Experience” vs the Hotel Guest Experience/ Room With a View - a Column by Larry Mundy / August 2006
The Hotel Guest With Half a Brain / Room With a View - a Column by Larry Mundy / July 2006
The Latest Thing - Fractional Ownership Of Things or FOOT Financing for Hotels / Room With a View - a Column by Larry Mundy / July 2006
Hotel Floor Surfaces - Hard or Soft? / Room With a View - a Column by Larry Mundy / July 2006
Hotel Bathroom Origami - That Tiny Detail of Carefully Triangulated Toilet Paper / Room With a View - a Column by Larry Mundy / July 2006
A Chain, a System, a Franchise, a Collection, a Group, a Brand... / Room With a View - a Column by Larry Mundy / July 2006
The Forensic Hotel Housekeeper / Room With a View - a Column by Larry Mundy / July 2006
The Exercise Room in Your Hotel - Sweating the Details / Room With a View - a Column by Larry Mundy / June 2006
Remembering the old-time Hotel Engineering Department / Room With a View - a Column by Larry Mundy / June 2006
Curse of the Hotel Lobby-Dwellers / Room With a View - a Column by Larry Mundy / June 2006
What Do You Do With an Old Hotel? / Room With a View - a Column by Larry Mundy / June 2006
Hotel Smokers: A Dying Breed / Room With a View - a Column by Larry Mundy / May  2006
The New Food & Beverage – Food “Just Like Home”  / Room With a View - a Column by Larry Mundy / May 2006
Guest Privacy – It’s Not Just a Door Tag Anymore / Room With a View - a Column by Larry Mundy / May 2006
The Future of Hotel Reservations / Room With a View - a Column by Larry Mundy / May 2006
Soon Every Town in America Will Have an Unused Convention Center / Room With a View - a Column by Larry Mundy / May 2006
Hotel Pool Safety 101 / Room With a View - a Column by Larry Mundy / May 2006
Where Not To Build a Hotel / Room With a View - a Column by Larry Mundy / May 2006
“Exterior Corridors” – Disappearing, Because They Never Existed / Room With a View - a Column by Larry Mundy
My Top Ten Worst Hotel Inventions / Room With a View - a Column by Larry Mundy / April 2006
Bed Tech / Room With a View - a Column by Larry Mundy / April 2006
A Sense of Arrival / Room With a View - a Column by Larry Mundy / April 2006



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