Hotel HVAC: Room to Improve
Facility Little Things Add Up! Help Hotels Manage Their Reservationsmanagers want seamless integration for smarter, more efficient operation
When discussing hotels of any size, HVAC upgrades increase profit margins by lowering energy costs, but they also provide “green hotel” cachet — a value that extends far beyond the friendlier utility bills. Increasing profit margin, enhancing brand value, and improving the customer experience makes for a compelling trio of reasons for hotels to look harder at investing in targeted projects (or recurring maintenance) and partnering with a qualified and trusted HVAC contractor.
Energy represents the single fastest-growing operating cost in the lodging industry, according to the Department of Energy (DOE). Decisions on guest room equipment amplify by dozens or hundreds in a single property. The mechanical systems work on such a scale that any amount of waste can add up to a significant financial loss or missed opportunity while, on the other hand, minor savings in one area can accumulate to an appreciable gain.
Motors represent a prime opportunity for upgrades in multiple places. The shift to electronically commutated motors (ECMs) can bring 20 to 30 percent boosts in efficiency.
Good targets include refrigeration motors (may offer attractive payback) and older guest room fan motors (long run times).
Furthermore, even before a hotel hires a contractor to do the main work, a wise owner will enlist someone to assess the existing motors and identify any incentives to create a benchmark return on investment (ROI) expectation.
Hotels typically have their own facilities staff, but they often can’t cover everything. The biggest maintenance problems include expansion valves that need adjusting, improper refrigerant charges, and especially dirty air filters. They may outsource inspecting and repairing steam traps, too
“A good maintenance plan reduces costs,” Dan Ruben of Boston Green Tourism said about hotels. “Consider hiring a service company to clean PTACs, VTACs, etc.”
That’s good, reliable revenue for HVAC companies.
DRAIN WATER HEAT RECOVERY
This system makes the most of the “hot” in that hot water going down the guest room shower drain or the back-of-house dishwashers and clothes washers. Paired with storage or not, it saves money by preheating cold water headed to guest showers and, according to the DOE, can be especially helpful if the main water heater is undersized.
INSULATE DUCTS AND HOT WATER PIPES
Before drain water heat recovery, there was good, old-fashioned insulation for hot water pipes. It still works. And in an industry driven by guest satisfaction, it also delivers that desired water temperature a little bit faster.
Another way a hotel can minimize those cold shower complaints is to employ a conventional heat exchanger, transferring waste heat from the building’s cooling and refrigeration equipment to the water tank.
CHP CHECKS IN
Combined heating and power (CHP) is often thought of in campus or hospital settings, but it can make sense for hotels, too, especially those over 1,000 rooms or those with exceptional hot water demands. Larger hotels and resorts can wring the most out of the investment in generating electricity on-site and using waste heat to drive a heating/cooling plant. That power flexibility may pay off in customer satisfaction during a general outage as well.
Unlike the overmatched fans of many buildings, modern fans are quieter and more efficient, and they last longer. Options like motion sensors could build additional savings for a hotel.
When a boiler develops problems or reaches the end of its natural life, a hotel’s usage profile may make heat pumps an attractive long-term candidate in some areas. Saving mechanical room space is often a possibility, along with the energy conservation.
GUEST ROOM CONTROLS
Hotel guests want to feel “at home,” but they are also attracted to new technology and guest room amenities. Today’s rooms are more integrated and intelligent than ever. Newer thermostats and controllers work with HVAC equipment and security features to turn off systems in unoccupied rooms — a single advancement with enormous budget repercussions spread over time and across a full inventory of rooms.
Chipping away to accomplish even a 10 percent reduction in energy use can yield the same financial effect as increasing the average daily room rate by 62 cents in limited-service hotels and by $1.35 in full-service hotels, according to the DOE.
Publication date: 8/20/2018