What is an Energy Management System?
By Jordan Hollander
Last updated February 16, 2023
5 min read
Searching for a solution to your higher energy costs? Or looking for ways to operate your hotel’s building systems more efficiently? An energy management system can offer a lot of value to hotels of all shapes and sizes - not only helping you decrease your utility costs, but also unlocking more productivity and higher guest satisfaction. Energy management systems can require significant upfront investment, so you’ll want to learn the ins and outs of this type of software before making a purchasing decision. Luckily, you’ve come to the right place. In this article, we’ll introduce you to the basics of energy management systems, the benefits your hotel can realize by implementing one, and the top systems available on the market today.
What is an Energy Management System?
An energy management system (EMS) is software that allows you to control and monitor your electric utilities and electricity-consuming devices. For example, an energy management system could control your hotel’s HVAC systems that are present in each guestroom. The EMS gives you insight into energy usage so you can reduce your consumption and utility costs while maximizing functionality and comfort.
An EMS generally involves three components in addition to the EMS interface: metering sensors that measure the energy usage, a control system that transmits commands from the EMS interface, and the actual controlled devices, such as air conditioning units, fans, or lights. A good example of a very basic EMS is the thermostat in your house. The thermostat has an interface where you can set a heating or cooling schedule, a sensor that measures the temperature in the room, a controller that tells the heater to turn on or off, and the actual heating or cooling element itself.
At this point, you may be wondering what the difference is between an energy management system and a building management system. While both systems work with your utility systems, like lighting and HVAC, a building management system (also known as a building automation system) is designed to automate processes, while an energy management system exists to help you control and monitor these systems. A building management system, for instance, might automate the operation of your elevators so they return to the ground floor if the fire alarm goes off.
Benefits of an Energy Management System
Use of an energy management system can bring several exciting benefits to your hotel, such as reduced energy consumption, lower operating costs, and more efficient operations. Such a system can also unlock insights that you wouldn’t be able to get without a system in place that monitors your energy usage in detail. Let’s dive into each benefit and how an energy management system can help you achieve your operational goals.
Reduced energy consumption: Simply put, an energy management system can help you use less energy. Once you can monitor your energy use, you can identify areas of opportunity to turn certain systems off or decrease use at certain times of day. Using less energy means your hotel’s environmental footprint is smaller, which doesn’t just make you feel good, but it can also be a nice point to highlight in your marketing materials, since many guests are looking for sustainable options when they travel.
Decreased operating costs: As your hotel uses less energy, your operating costs will naturally decrease too. But you won’t only save money on your gas or electric bill; when your systems are running more efficiently, they will incur less wear and tear, and you can extract a longer usable life out of your equipment. This way, you’ll spend less on replacement and maintenance costs.
Ease of use: It’s certainly possible to operate your building systems manually, but that’s not the most efficient way to run them. An energy management system gives you one central interface to control all of your systems. This way, you don’t need to jump from your air conditioning system to your exterior lighting system to the system that controls the exhaust fans in the kitchen. You can do it all from one place, which makes daily operations faster and easier.
Analytical power: An energy management system adds a level of transparency to your energy use that you can’t easily get by controlling your individual systems directly.
Happier guests and employees: Most importantly, you need to maintain a comfortable environment for your guests and employees. You don’t want to slash energy consumption if that means you’ll get angry reviews from guests who are overheating when you try to save air conditioning costs during the summer. Instead, you can maximize comfort by using systems when they’re necessary and turning them down or off when they’re not needed.
Best Energy Management Systems for Hotels
If these benefits sound compelling, you’re probably wondering where to begin your search for the best energy management system for your unique property. We’ll give you a jump start on the decision-making process with an overview of the top energy management systems for hotels.
How to Install an Energy Management System at Your Hotel
Before committing to a particular energy management system, you’ll want to do your due diligence by completing a demo session, speaking with a customer support rep, and outlining the implementation process. At a minimum, implementation will include physical installation of sensors and devices throughout your hotel and training on the software itself. Since you will need to access each guestroom during the installation, you might need to take rooms out of order for a short period of time.
Many operators install their energy management systems with aggressive plans to cut energy costs but end up dropping the ball on the actual daily operations. To get the most out of your system, make sure to clearly define a team who will manage the system (including representatives from your maintenance, guest service, and leadership teams) and a set of standard operating procedures to adhere to. Assign each of these team members to specific tasks so that everyone knows what they’re responsible for. After installation, make sure to check that the system is functioning correctly so you can avoid costly errors in the long-term. Soon, you’ll be able to watch your utility bills and your environmental impact decrease, and you can enjoy higher review scores and happier guests and employees.