The biggest costs might be the most obvious, but the low-cost solutions you can implement might be easy to do.
Many hotel guests look forward a long, hot shower after a day’s activity. They’ll let the steam go for a while and take an extra-long time under the water. It’s relaxing for the guest but it can be frustrating for the owner that’s paying for all that hot water going down the drain. Energy costs are the largest expenditure for hotels next to staff costs. They are also more manageable for those owners that want to know how to reduce energy costs and are willing to implement solutions dedicated to saving a little money.
Paying the Cost to Be the Boss
Water costs are the largest energy costs in a hotel. Not only are your guests using hot water, but your kitchen and your cleaning staff is too. Nearly 15 percent of all water used by commercial and institutional organizations is done by hotels in the United States. The majority of that is restrooms, followed by landscaping and kitchen use. Being smart about how you use water in your building can lower use by up to 15%, which will lower your costs by up to 10%.
Controlling the room temperature is also a constant struggle between comfort and commerce. Customers want their rooms very cool in the summer and very warm in the winter. They might be miserly when they are home in their own beds but once they’ve paid the flat rate for your room, they feel free to walk around in shorts in the winter and a sweater in the summer. Individual climate control can help here, but not all hotels have access to such a costly solution to implement.
When figuring out how to reduce energy costs at your hotel, a good place to start is with low-cost, easy-to-implement changes. Adjusting the baseline temperatures for your HVAC system, even by a degree or two, can save you a lot of money. Setbacks still save a lot of money despite advances in the sensitivity of thermostats. You know how to best keep your building at a comfortable level depending on your local climate. A degree makes a difference on your budget but less so to the comfort of your guests. Guests that prefer colder or warmer room temps will adjust however they please, but those indifferent guests will not notice the difference.
Another common opt-in program features guests choosing whether or not to reuse towels and linens. Inform your guests that they will get fresh linens if left in a certain area or be able to keep their linens for the duration of their stay. Using the same linens cuts costs across the board. You save money on electricity, soap, water and labor by not needing to wash as many linens every day. A properly run reuse program can cut down on costs by nearly 17%.
Taking the time to train your staff on how to reduce energy costs is another easy way to lower your overhead. Remind them to shut off electric devices in unoccupied rooms and readjust thermostats to proper levels. Make sure they shut off office computers when not in use. Encourage them to offer suggestions on how to save money and become more efficient. Employees prefer to engage in plans they discovered rather than ones imposed on them by management. Offering incentives for thinking green can give you ideas to save money in ways you might have not even considered.
Where There’s Green, There’s $Green
There are many more examples of programs with incentives for staff and owners that are learning how to reduce energy costs. If you’re taking steps to implement the programs and changes, take steps to make sure your guests are implementing them too. Eco-friendly businesses are currently in vogue. Customers want to feel like they are helping the world when they spend money. By letting them know about your green programs, they’ll be more likely to stay with you again or engage in premium services feeling a little less guilty for spending more money. It’s the same guilt relief branding that organic or gluten-free gives.
The chains are picking up on how to reduce energy costs as well. Many chains are insisting franchisees adopt green techniques to save money and stay competitive. Installing fixtures that save water or toilets that use less water per flush keeps operating costs down. When these costs are down, chains can keep room prices low. Hotel chains have economies of scale to absorb the costs of these improvements, but they also have to wait for decision makers to commit to large-scale change. If your hotel is part of a chain, you can get ahead of the curb by implementing changes before the rest of the company. If your hotel is not part of a chain you can distinguish yourself from the competition by taking the lead on these initiatives.
Rising energy costs are a challenge that every hotel must face. Consumption of hot water is the largest component of these costs because both the house and the guests need it to survive. Comfortable temperatures also can make or break a guest’s experience. Some of the classic cost-saving methods, like setting the thermostat back, and training your staff on how to reduce energy costs will still offer great savings. But new ideas, like reducing the amount of linen washed, also increase savings. These days, ecological friendliness and budget considerations go hand in hand. Hotels from small bed and breakfasts to large chains are taking the opportunity to go green. If you play it smart enough, you can make a win for the environment a win for everyone involved.
Featured image courtesy of Flickr user Joe Shlabotnik licensed under CC by 2.0.
“Thermostat at Disney’s Yacht Club Resort” courtesy of Flickr user Evan Didier.
Image courtesy of Flickr user stacey.d licensed under CC by 2.0.