Go Green: Tips for Saving Energy and Money

By: Dylan Tomlin

In a world of increasing energy costs and environmental concerns, energy consumption in hotels and other accommodation has become increasingly important. There are simple things that can be done to maximize the sustainability of a hotel. By incorporating some strategic conservation practices in key areas of operations, energy reductions can occur without significant investments.

The amount of energy that a hotel typically consumes each month is staggering. The biggest culprit is the heating system, which typically accounts for 35% of the total energy expended (add an additional 8% for cooling). Second is lighting, as most areas of a property will have all the lights on 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, resulting in roughly 30% of the overall energy consumed.  With proper energy saving solutions, operators can seriously reduce their monthly energy costs, by as much as 20%.

Whether a large convention hotel, part of a national chain, or a small inn or motel, it is important to tailor an energy plan for each business’ individual needs. The opportunities for enhanced guest comfort, longer equipment life, lower operating costs, and an improved corporate image make pursuing energy efficiency worthwhile.

“There are several low-cost/no-cost actions that can be taken immediately.”

Retrofits and equipment upgrades are important aspects of any energy cost-reduction strategy, but there are several low-cost/no-cost actions that can be taken immediately.


Retrofits can reduce lighting electricity use by 50 % or more, depending on the starting point. Some basic strategies to become energy efficient include:

Use daylight – Natural daylight has been shown to improve the indoor environment while reducing energy use. Whenever possible, use natural light and reduce electric lighting accordingly.
Install occupancy sensors and timers – Occupancy sensors detect the motion of room occupants, turning off lights in unoccupied areas and turning them back on when movement is detected. Occupancy sensors save energy and help to reduce maintenance costs.
Ensure housekeeping staff use lighting wisely – Lighting levels should provide minimum sufficient illumination for effective cleaning and staff’s safe movement between work areas. Additionally, lamps should be dusted regularly. Dirty lamps and fixtures can reduce effective light output by as much as 50%.

Heating and Cooling

Heating and cooling represent almost 40% of the electricity, and more than half of the natural gas used by hotels and motels. Many properties heat and cool rooms, regardless of whether they are occupied, despite studies that show hotel rooms as unoccupied for 12 hours each day on average.

Change your air filter regularly – Check your filter every month, especially during heavy use months (winter and summer). If the filter looks dirty after a month, change it. At a minimum, change the filter every three months. A dirty filter will slow down air flow and make the system work harder to keep you warm or cool—wasting energy.
Tune up HVAC equipment yearly Ensure a qualified technician regularly maintains HVAC equipment. Cooling towers must be serviced regularly since they are subject to scale deposits, clogged nozzles, poor airflow, and poor pump performance.
Close entire wings or floors – During periods of low occupancy, close sections and reduce lighting and HVAC systems in these areas, while assigning guests to adjoining rooms. This will allow the heating and cooling of occupied rooms to act as a buffer or insulator.
Ensure there is proper air flow – Remove any obstructions from your vents—including return-air vents—items such as furniture, curtains, displays, or boxes could be blocking airflow which reduces the efficiency of HVAC systems and increases energy costs.

Housekeeping, Maintenance, and Management

Staff training and awareness can cut your energy costs, often from 2-10%. All staff will benefit greatly from in-house seminars, staff meetings, and demonstrations that target energy efficiency. Internal communication programs can employ a variety of tools—including posters, flyers, and newsletters—to create awareness of energy efficiency and its relation to saving money and the environment.

Educate and encourage housekeeping staff Open drapes and shades to take advantage of natural light when servicing rooms. Close drapes and shades after cleaning to prevent heat loss or gain. Refrain from letting taps run while cleaning, and tighten faucets to avoid dripping.
Discourage housekeepers from turning on TVs while cleaning – This may seem like a minor request, but energy use adds up.
Turn off lights and appliances – Once a room has been made up, all lights and appliances should be turned off and thermostats set to minimum.

These tips can be implemented right away and be done in tandem with replacing inefficient equipment with more efficient models. Please contact me at for your complimentary energy analysis to further reduce energy consumption.

Operators will never lose a customer by becoming more energy efficient but can increase guest satisfaction and loyalty by showing they care about energy efficiency and climate change.