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With rising electricity prices and growing pressure to cut carbon emissions, saving energy has never been higher on a hotelier’s priority list. There are two solutions that are becoming increasingly popular amongst hoteliers, large and small. One is voltage optimisation, which works to reduce the incoming power to a premises to reduce energy consumption and protect electrical equipment. The other is energy management systems, which switch on and off appliances depending on the occupancy of a room.
While highly sophisticated in the way it works, voltage optimisation is based on a very simple idea; electrical equipment is designed to operate most efficiently at 220V, whereas the average UK voltage is set at 242V and can reach close to 252V at some sites. Voltage optimisation works by monitoring the incoming supply and instantly lowering it to a steady 220V, at the same time eradicating the usual peaks and troughs in power that can harm equipment such as bulbs and motors.
Essentially the voltage optimisation device is a transformer that takes up little room and is installed at the point where the power enters a building.
Foxhills Hotel and Resort in Surrey adopted the technology in 2011 and has seen its energy bills drop by more than £15,000 over the past year. The 70 bedroom hotel – which hosted the Team GB Cyclists during the Olympics - sits in 440 acres of land and with four swimming pools, 12 tennis courts, a spa, two championship golf courses and a conference centre, was running up monthly power bills of around £13,000 and an annual power consumption of 2,074,236kWhr.
Bosses there turned to iVolt, a British company which manufactures a unique kind of variable voltage optimisation equipment that enables users to track their savings accurately, and in real time, through a patented Intelligent Real Time (IRT) energy saving monitor. This same monitor allows facility managers to remotely access information about their premises, so they can track savings from anywhere in the world as well as having the ability to increase or decrease the power supply from afar.
Foxhills’ Facilities Director, Ben Biggs, said: ‘Our energy demand grows year on year and with it our bills rise so for some time we had been considering ways of tackling this problem. Foxhills is a very busy place; we’ve got a lot of guests moving through and a workforce of 150-160 people and that means a lot of energy used.
‘The savings (with the iVolt) are three-fold really. The iVolt not only saves us money by reducing the amount of power we use but it reduces the strain on equipment, which means it lasts longer, and by monitoring our energy consumption in real time it provides me with crucial information which I can then take to my staff to make them more conscious of the electricity we’re using - and in many cases wasting. This tool was really the reason we chose iVolt over its competitors and we’re very happy with the results we’re seeing.’
Foxhills’ convection ovens, pool plant and thousands of light fittings account for about two thirds of the total power consumption at the site. To find energy efficient solutions for all of these contributors would be costly, disruptive and time-consuming but the iVolt was a one off investment that led to zero disruption to the running of the hotel and offers benefits across the whole site; reducing power bills by 12-20% - which equates to thousands of pounds a year – cutting maintenance costs on heavy equipment and significantly reducing expenditure on new lamps.
The system is produced nearby in Surrey and the company has already won substantial contracts with railway stations, supermarket chains, factories and restaurants and its founder, Manhal Allos, believes that around 400,000 UK sites would benefit from the equipment.
An electrical engineer by trade, Manhal explained: ‘Voltage optimisation is an energy saving solution that works - it saves money, protects equipment and reduces your carbon output. However, in this economic climate no one wants to invest in a technology based on theoretical savings – they need to be able to see what they are actually saving to justify the initial cap-ex, and that is where iVolt comes in.
‘A lot of VO manufacturers require months to demonstrate savings and even then these amounts are calculated through assumptions of usage, footfall, weather and other regression modelling methods. The problem is there are too many variables; it’s technically impossible to prove that voltage optimisation has saved X% when energy consumption is affected by so many factors. iVolt’s IRT monitor is a dependable method of calculating savings. It works by adjusting the voltage output to compare energy consumption with and without optimisation, over a defined period, comparing consumption levels to identify the energy savings actually being delivered.’
Another new product offering voltage optimisation to hotels is the Voltis 100Amp from market leading British manufacturer Marshall-Tufflex.
Voltis 100Amp is a miniaturised version of commercial optimiser systems like Marshall-Tufflex’s Voltis, delivering all the benefits but in a smaller unit that is straight forward to install and more cost effective for small to medium sized retail outlets, cafes, restaurants, hotels etc.
Voltis 100Amp is suitable for any location utilising a single phase electricity supply and load up to 100Amps. It is available nationwide through electrical wholesalers and is easily installed by a qualified electrical contractor between the electricity meter and consumer unit. Voltis 100Amp. The unit, which measures 420mm x 360mm x 195mm, refines power quality and comes as standard with an automatic bypass function and intelligent control to maximise savings potential.
Jurys Inn Birmingham recently announced that they have adopted the commercial version of this Voltis technology. Andrew Fletcher, managing director of energy conservation specialist Carbon Control was instrumental in converting Jurys Inn Birmingham to the benefits of voltage optimisation, and in particular Voltis.
‘Jurys is a very well-informed client, with energy/cost savings and environmental concerns being major drivers for their business,’ said Mr Fletcher. ‘The business produces comprehensive monthly reports on energy consumption and I knew that by installing Voltis it could reduce the heating and air conditioning system’s power consumption [or similar] by some 17%. Post installation we carried out a verification trial, measuring electrical consumption across a range of fan motors, most of which were also fitted with VSDs, the equipment for the trial having been specified by the hotel. We performed measurements under identical load conditions with and without Voltis operating. The results demonstrated that a saving was being achieved by Voltis.’
The project comprised two 800Amp Voltis units, one serving each incoming supply derived from the two high voltage transformers on site.
Quantifying the precise savings that Voltis has delivered for Jurys has proved complex because the hotel has benefited from an increase in trade, added a new restaurant and opened a central reservations call centre for the group on-site, all of which have increased electrical demand.
For Mr Fletcher, went on to explain why he turned to Voltis, ‘One of Voltis’s main advantages is its automatic bypass/switch off function, which reverts the system to mains power if there is a problem with supply. Competitor systems don’t have this function, so if there is a fault within the power supply the first their customers will know about it is when power shuts down to the whole site. Voltis prevents this happening, which was a big deciding factor for me.’
The manufacturers say that the secret of Voltis’ success lies in its intelligent operation – it is the only system of its kind currently available in the UK and combines all the best features of standard, established VO systems and matches them with cutting-edge technology to produce a more robust and efficient offer.
Hotelstar is an energy management system that cuts hotel energy costs by up to 65%. The product forms part of EMSc Ltd’s Star range of energy saving solutions, and is designed, engineered and manufactured in the UK. Hotelstar uses intelligent control sensors to monitor guest room occupation discreetly and switch power accordingly to avoid energy waste.
Using software, each Hotelstar unit can control all the appliances – including lights, heating, air conditioning, TV and radio – in up to four rooms and integrates with all other building functions. Whilst rooms are occupied, guests have complete control of all the facilities. However, once a guest leaves the room, Hotelstar overrides to default settings but switches back to the settings selected by the guest as soon as they re-enter the room.
Once installed, guests are unable to tell that the system is in place as it is discreetly positioned, there are no negative effects on equipment or appliances, and the switch to and from the hotel’s specified settings to the guest’s preferred settings are seamless.
Hotelstar is designed for new build and retrofit applications and, in addition to substantial energy savings it offers a number of benefits: it reduced maintenance costs, provides occupancy information for house staff, is simple to install, and typical payback is 12-15 months in electricity bill savings alone.