What is an Energy Management System?

By Hotel Tech Report

Last updated April 21, 2022

5 min read


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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.

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THE PITCH
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100 HT Score
Hotel Tech Score is a composite ranking comprising of key signals such as: user satisfaction, review quantity, review recency, and vendor submitted information to help buyers better understand their products.
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Major hotel brands like Marriott, Hilton, and IHG use Verdant’s energy management system, so you can be confident in the quality and value this company offers. Verdant’s signature product is an in-room thermostat that uses an occupancy sensor to turn the system on or off depending on whether a guest is in the room or not. The system includes a handy dashboard that allows you to monitor system status and usage for every room in your hotel, and at a given moment you can see which rooms have the heat or air conditioning switched on. Verdant estimates that the energy cost savings their system drives will pay for the cost of the system in 12 to 18 months, so you can see a positive ROI quite soon after implementation. Implementing the system is also relatively straightforward; their technical team can assist you virtually during the install, which is estimated to take about 10 minutes per key.
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Verdant Energy Management Solutions Energy Management Systems
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RATINGS
100 HT Score
Major hotel brands like Marriott, Hilton, and IHG use Verdant’s energy management system, so you can be confident in the quality and value this company offers. Verdant’s signature product is an in-room thermostat that uses an occupancy sensor to turn the system on or off depending on whether a guest is in the room or not. The system includes a handy dashboard that allows you to monitor system status and usage for every room in your hotel, and at a given moment you can see which rooms have the heat or air conditioning switched on. Verdant estimates that the energy cost savings their system drives will pay for the cost of the system in 12 to 18 months, so you can see a positive ROI quite soon after implementation. Implementing the system is also relatively straightforward; their technical team can assist you virtually during the install, which is estimated to take about 10 minutes per key.
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THE PITCH
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23 HT Score
Hotel Tech Score is a composite ranking comprising of key signals such as: user satisfaction, review quantity, review recency, and vendor submitted information to help buyers better understand their products.
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Telkonet’s EcoSmart system is present in more than 300,000 hotel rooms across the world, including The Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas and many Hilton, Hyatt, Marriott, and Sheraton properties. EcoSmart offers several options for thermostats to be installed in your guestrooms, ranging from a standard push-button thermostat to smart outlets and window sensors. These in-room sensors connect to EcoSmart’s cloud-based platform, which has an intuitive interface that you can access on desktop and mobile and shows real-time energy usage per hotel room and public space. The system can deliver some seriously impressive results. Some success stories from EcoSmart hotels include a 24% decrease in HVAC runtime at the Crowne Plaza Times Square and a 44% annual energy cost savings at the Sheraton Chicago. Pricing is available upon request.
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Telkonet Energy Management Systems
THE PITCH
RATINGS
23 HT Score
Telkonet’s EcoSmart system is present in more than 300,000 hotel rooms across the world, including The Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas and many Hilton, Hyatt, Marriott, and Sheraton properties. EcoSmart offers several options for thermostats to be installed in your guestrooms, ranging from a standard push-button thermostat to smart outlets and window sensors. These in-room sensors connect to EcoSmart’s cloud-based platform, which has an intuitive interface that you can access on desktop and mobile and shows real-time energy usage per hotel room and public space. The system can deliver some seriously impressive results. Some success stories from EcoSmart hotels include a 24% decrease in HVAC runtime at the Crowne Plaza Times Square and a 44% annual energy cost savings at the Sheraton Chicago. Pricing is available upon request.
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THE PITCH
RATINGS BEST FOR
13 HT Score
Hotel Tech Score is a composite ranking comprising of key signals such as: user satisfaction, review quantity, review recency, and vendor submitted information to help buyers better understand their products.
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Trusted by Accor, Marriott, and more, SensorFlow estimates that it can cut your HVAC costs in half with their cutting-edge tech. SensorFlow uses wireless sensors to detect guestroom occupancy, which then control the in-room HVAC system based on a variety of inputs. If the system detects that the guestroom is vacant, the system turns off or switches to more energy-efficient settings, and when the guest reenters the room, the system reverts to the previous settings so the guest remains comfortable. SensorFlow prides itself on a user-friendly, intuitive system, and the company estimates that you can install their devices in just five minutes per guestroom. From the digital interface, you can configure settings like automation hours, thresholds, and energy-saving modes. The dashboard also shows you metrics like temperature, humidity, guest behavior, and usage trends so you can optimize for cost savings without compromising comfort. Pricing is available upon request.
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SensorFlow Energy Management Systems
THE PITCH
RATINGS
13 HT Score
Trusted by Accor, Marriott, and more, SensorFlow estimates that it can cut your HVAC costs in half with their cutting-edge tech. SensorFlow uses wireless sensors to detect guestroom occupancy, which then control the in-room HVAC system based on a variety of inputs. If the system detects that the guestroom is vacant, the system turns off or switches to more energy-efficient settings, and when the guest reenters the room, the system reverts to the previous settings so the guest remains comfortable. SensorFlow prides itself on a user-friendly, intuitive system, and the company estimates that you can install their devices in just five minutes per guestroom. From the digital interface, you can configure settings like automation hours, thresholds, and energy-saving modes. The dashboard also shows you metrics like temperature, humidity, guest behavior, and usage trends so you can optimize for cost savings without compromising comfort. Pricing is available upon request.
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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.