Water heating makes over 50% of the natural gas usage in most hotels and motels. This is due to the tremendous amount of hot water used in laundry, dishwashing, and guest showers. Taking steps to conserve water in these activities can cut a significant portion of natural gas usage.
- Provide guests with laundering options relative to towels and bed linens. Allowing guests to reuse towels and linens can substantially reduce the number of laundry loads for a hotel.
- Explore laundering options such as cycle control and temperature reductions. Selecting the proper wash temperature and load size can reduce the amount of hot water needed. Reusing cooler rinse water in the presoak cycle can even prevent stains from setting. Hotels typically wash laundry around 160° F, when much lower temperatures can be effective and safe. Modern detergents and bleaches can be used successfully in water as low as 120° F.
- Use the lowest temperature settings at which proper cleaning and disinfecting can be achieved.
- Consider cold-water washing. Ask your chemical supplier for a cost-benefit analysis.
- In the evening, turn down pool and hot tub water heaters and cover with insulating sheets.
- Install low-flow showerheads and aerated faucets to reduce the amount of hot water used during showers and washing hands. Aerated faucets mix air and water using a screen to limit the amount of water flow and improve water pressure. Timing or sensory controls on faucets reduces the possibility of hot water being left on or overused.
- Explore demand or tankless water heaters. These are installed at the point of use and provide hot water only when it is needed, whereas tank water heaters must use energy to make hot water available at all times.
Space heating is very important in hospitality facilities for guest comfort and well-being. Despite this, there are a number of low-cost measures you can take to increase heating efficiency and lower natural gas consumption.
- Check for worn and cracked caulking and weather-stripping on doors and windows of all rooms, including those that have been permanently closed.
- Lower thermostat settings in meeting rooms, swimming pools, restaurants, and other areas when they are closed or unoccupied. Consider installing programmable thermostats in these areas to automatically lower and raise setting when needed.
- Heat unoccupied guest rooms at set back temperatures. This can be accomplished through housekeeping staff policy or, for a long-term solution, consider an energy management system installation.
- Make sure boilers and associated systems are part of the annual maintenance schedule. Ask your maintenance contractor to measure boiler efficiency at least once each year.
- Make sure that all heating pipes and ductwork are properly insulated and insulate expansion tanks and heat exchangers.
While food preparation is not a significant activity in all hotels and motels, many of these facilities, as well as nursing homes and other residential facilities, have full restaurants and cafeterias on site. The following are some natural gas conservation ideas.
- Do not preheat steam tables, grills, broilers, etc. For preheating ovens, 15 minutes is generally adequate, depending on the appliance and desired temperature.
- Use microwave ovens when possible. Microwave ovens use significantly less energy than other cooking equipment and can be used for thawing, partially cooking and reheating food.
- Keep equipment clean. Carbon and grease build-up make your cooking equipment work harder and use more energy.
- When feasible, do not use the range top. Instead, use other equipment, such as steamers and ovens that use less energy and add less heat to the kitchen.
- Cover all pots, which reduces heat loss and causes the food to cook faster.
- Do not use two ovens when one will do.
- Do not use large ovens when cooking small amounts of food.
- Schedule cooking times to utilize ovens fully and shorten daily operating times.
- Do not operate fryers higher than 350º. Higher temperatures are less efficient.
- Precook foods such as potatoes and chicken in a steamer before frying. Steamers are much more energy efficient.
- Integrate controls that turn down the heat input with sensors that determine when food is not present. A large percentage of food equipment continues to run (idle) at high heat input rates even when food is not present.
*Information courtesy of Questline Tech Resources, Columbus, Ohio.
Related Articles and Links
Articles of Interest
American Restaurant Association
American Gas Association
Gas Foodservice Equipment Network