Cheat Sheet: Financial Incentives for Greening Your Energy Load
By Jim Poad Director of Client Solutions, Advantage IQ | December 05, 2010
The hotel industry spends nearly $5 billion annually on energy costs, from lighting to heating and cooling. Adding to the challenge is the continually increasing number of energy-intensive devices in hotels, including plasma televisions and monitors, laundry appliances, and the computers and devices that belong to guests. Hotel energy loads are going strong up to 24 hours per day, making the need to "green" energy loads a priority for hotel owners. Fortunately, there are ample opportunities for hoteliers to cut energy consumption and costs without adversely affecting the comfort of guests. Better yet, greening your hotel's energy load comes with plenty of financial incentives.
A comprehensive, long-term energy strategy can cut energy consumption by up to 10 percent. Hotel executives can guide energy and money savings through a variety of ways, including investments in energy-saving devices, behavior modification, and participation in government grants and programs. In addition to all the federal incentive programs, most U.S. states have rebates and initiatives available. This article will touch upon why it is financially advantageous for hotel owners to work with their energy managers to reduce their energy consumption.
Conduct an Audit for Credit
Before you can start saving, you have to know where you're starting, so it's important to create a baseline of your energy use. An internal energy team or third-party energy consultant can be hired to observe your hotel's energy usage, water use, and waste volume. You can use this information to develop an accurate "load profile" that reflects your energy usage and can be found within your utility invoices. Once you have gathered all of the demand information, a quality profile will consider how demand might have been affected by operating hours, occupancy, temperature, and lighting. An energy consultant can also track your energy usage for you and use their in-depth knowledge of the energy industry and energy markets to identify where you may be overpaying.
What can you do to prevent overpaying for energy? Reviewing the accuracy of utility bills prior to payment and checking with utility providers to make sure you are on the best possible utility rate are quick ways to reduce energy costs. If you have a database that captures utility billing information, you can identify the facilities with the highest cost per square foot and review opportunities to purchase energy in deregulated markets. An energy consultant can also identify if you are on the appropriate rate for your load profile. Hotels qualify for a Time of Use rate that may be more favorable for your 24-hour operation. If a hotel is being billed at a rate suitable for a 9-to-5 operation, it dramatically increases monthly costs. Rate review should be revisited regularly as sites open, close, or demand characteristics change.
Energy consultants can provide site performance benchmarking to help you understand how your hotel performs. Consultants can recommend high-return capital improvements and energy-efficiency investment opportunities, such as the following: