Energy management systems help the bottom line

ATLANTA—Energy management is a big concern for hoteliers. According to Energy Star, heating and cooling alone represents almost 40% of the electricity and more than half of natural gas used by hotels and motels. Using an energy management system can help a hotel property significantly save on its annual energy consumption.

“For some properties, energy consumption can mean the difference between making a profit or loss,” said Grant Patterson, Inncom product marketing manager, Honeywell. “Guestroom energy equates to about one-third of the energy used within the total property, so if you can reduce this bill, that can help make a huge impact to the balance sheet.”

To help hotels with this, Honeywell has released the Inncom InnControl 5 Energy Management and Guestroom Control System (IC5), which lets operators monitor and manage guestroom controls across an entire hotel property in real time to identify and resolve issues before they affect guests.

“The system tracks energy usage and helps deliver better operational efficiency,” said Patterson. “It securely integrates with third-party systems to address each property’s operations. IC5 is a cloud-based platform that features secure remote access and visibility from any mobile device so that operators can quickly address guest issues and plan maintenance tasks, often before they impact the guest experience.”

IC5 collects guestroom data and presents it on a configurable dashboard that displays key performance indicators (KPIs) that impact property operations and functions. Dashboards display KPI metrics that can include energy utilization property-wide and by individual guestroom, along with real-time occupancy status and overall system health. The new system is powered by the Niagara Framework open IoT platform for secure, easy integration with third-party devices and systems.

“IC5 is a cloud-based system that I can access on my iPhone,” said Nick D’Acri, chief engineer at Saybrook Point Inn, Marina & Spa in Old Saybrook, CT, which has upgraded to the IC5 system. “Information is presented in a logical fashion with nested menus that are easy to navigate. The graphics are much improved over prior versions, and trend history is dense with details.”

“The system allows operators to input their energy management goals,” said Patterson. “They can track property performance against these goals in real time and also track historical performance. Historical performance data may be filtered by time increments so operators can view the past few hours of operation or analyze performance trends over several months.”

Compared to the previous iteration of the system, IC5 has push alarms, alerts and notifications. “Now, operators will know as soon as something important happens at their hotel with push alarms, alerts and notifications,” he said. “In a similar fashion to how you receive email alerts today on your mobile or updates on your PC, you will now receive these for IC5.”

These alerts help with monitoring energy efficiency. “Having alarms means the operations teams can react more quickly to negative changes in a property,” said Patterson. “As an example, we took a sample of 100 properties over the past two years and found that when the property management system (PMS) lost communication, the property had 18% less energy savings in the guestroom. IC5 alerts users when communication has been lost so it can be fixed quickly. IC5 has more alarm types than its predecessor, IC3.”

The system also allows housekeeping and maintenance staff to know when guests are out of the room. “They can conveniently service rooms when IC5 indicates there is no guest present via the system’s real-time occupancy status,” Patterson said. “IC5 also records a room’s occupancy history to verify and optimize room usage. The system sends alarms if doors are left open and tracks how long it was open to enhance guest safety.”

Remote access to the information monitored by the system is a benefit to users. “We live in an always-on world,” said Patterson. “IC5 is optimized for desktop, tablets and mobile phones so that hoteliers can better manage their property from wherever they are—even if they are not on property. With IC5, a hotelier can remotely see real-time energy usage, occupancy status, and identify and resolve issues before they affect guests. It also gives engineering and facilities teams the ability to identify real-time occupancy status and make repairs while limiting potential guest disruptions.”

For his part, D’Acri noted that his team is “still exploring the new IC5 software as new features are seamlessly added to the interface,” and the property’s focus “is primarily on keeping our customers happy and comfortable.”

D’Acri added, “We have Inncom thermostats in guestrooms as well as common areas and meeting spaces. We have enjoyed tight control along with continuous monitoring of temperature, humidity, occupancy and light level. The push notifications on our mobile devices allow for quick response to alarms, resulting in efficient operation of our systems. The parameters used here in our energy management system have been carefully adjusted over two decades with Inncom products. The money we save on energy is as a result of setback based on occupancy. The system accomplishes this flawlessly, and our electrical consumption is approximately one-third less than similar properties in our region.” HB

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