Question: I’ve been losing a lot of money in energy costs as I heat and cool my hotel. I was wondering if you have any tips for lowering costs without undergoing a complete retrofit?

Answer: Absolutely! Tips are what we do best! There’s a lot you can do to lessen the costs of heating and cooling your hotel throughout the winter and summer months, one of which is to ensure that your business is keeping up an effective building envelope; here’s how!

Wrap it up

According to Energy Star, nearly 75% of a hotel or motel’s total energy use is attributed to space heating, water heating, lighting and cooling. A sound exterior envelope acts as a thermal shield, reducing demand on HVAC equipment, improving indoor comfort, and extending the lifespan of building components. The building envelope includes everything that separates the inside from the outside including windows, roofs, exterior doors, ceilings, and exterior walls, all of which have a serious influence on the heating and air conditioning systems by limiting heat losses and gains.

Tips for creating the optimal envelope

The most obvious places to search for energy losses are in the roof, walls, windows and doors of your establishment. Here’s what you should keep an eye out for when creating the optimal envelope for your business:

Leaks and cracks: Don’t spend money on unwanted energy by making your HVAC system work harder than it has to! On a day when there is a significant difference between the inside/outside temperature (or with the help of the fan/HVAC) identify seal leaks by feeling for drafts. This will also make guests feel more comfortable by getting rid of unwanted air flow. Check specifically around windows and door frames, and start fixing the biggest leaks first.

According to Smart Energy, you should replace worn weather-stripping and caulking to ensure windows and doors are airtight. Consider tightening existing window and door frames or investing in high-efficiency doors and windows during renovations to avoid heat loss and infiltration. Also, choose windows with a low U-factor (rate of heat loss), low-emittance coatings and/or low conduction gas filling.

Insulation: Keep heat in (or out) of your hotel or commercial business via the walls, roof and floors by installing the proper insulation to reduce heat flow throughout the building. The most cost-effective place to begin is the roof (consider installing a cool roof), followed by the walls and floors. Read more about choosing energy-efficient insulation for your commercial building.

Window Panes: Windows can act like thermal holes in the building envelope but installing double panes and triple panes can significantly increase the resistance to heat flow. Check for condensation between the panes as it is often an indication of a broken thermal seal and compromised insulation. Also, keep an eye out for Insulated Glazing Units (IGUs) also known as double or triple-glazed windows, which improve thermal performance, as well as Low-emissivity (low-E) glass that reflects infrared radiation and reduces heat transfer. Read more about how to the most choose energy-efficient windows for your hotel!

Shading: By reducing the amount of shade that comes through the windows, cooling costs can be lowered significantly, particularly in warm climates. Research the appropriate curtains and blinds for all windows and plant deciduous shade trees or erecting trellises for vines to create summer shade.

Questions or comments about creating the optimal envelope for your building? Leave them below!

image credit: cynicalview