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How hotels can make room for energy efficiency

Energy efficiency in hotels is complex, time-consuming and often stressful - too many choices, too few hours to test products and continued pressure on capital budgets.

The hospitality sector is responsible for more than 3.5 million tonnes of carbon emissions a year yet energy savings of up to 20 per cent - equivalent to more than £200 million - are possible across the sector as a whole.

Meanwhile, taxation on emissions (footprint) is sure to broaden and rise, catching more hospitality businesses in the carbon net.

Going green now makes good business sense for hotels. Long-term trials in a busy London hotel show annual savings of almost £500 per guest room.

So how do hotels and similar businesses go green? Here are simple steps that should save money and cut carbon with solutions that pay for themselves.

Heating and air-con

Any green HVAC solution has to identify when each guest room is occupied. Recent London trials show that typical hotel rooms can be ‘checked in’ but actually empty for up to 46 per cent of the time in any 24-hour guest stay.

The answer is a new generation of retrofit solutions that use micro sensors connected through wireless technology and can be installed around the existing system in under an hour.

When the green HVAC solution detects a room is empty, it sends a signal to the fan coil unit to shut down the cooling or heating of that room but at the same time, it controls the room’s ambient temperature.


Simple retrofitting of eco shower heads that mix air with water can reduce water consumption without affecting the showering experience and guest satisfaction.

Guests could currently use up to 14 lites of shower water per minute but the right eco shower head uses 7-9 litres, offering a typical 100-room hotel an annual saving of almost £10,000 when water heating costs are included.

Taps and toilets

In many hotels, taps in guest bathrooms or kitchens can flow up to 18 litres a minute and quality tap aerator kits restrict flow without affecting use. Also, every time a guest flushes a toilet, they will use up to 10 litres of water.

A simple cistern bag product can be installed easily in existing toilet cisterns, reducing water use by 1 litre per flush without affecting performance.


New LED replacement bulbs offer 85 per cent less energy, 80 per cent less heat and 80 per cent less carbon footprint with lower maintenance, giving hotels up to 40,000 hours’ continuous usage.

LED lighting gives hotels a wide range of options in terms of lighting density, colour tones and light spread. Ensuring the right new LED technology can be tricky, as lights often need to be fully dimmable and have the right quality of light for ambience.

Mark Sait is founder and director of Save