Strategies to Increase Energy Efficiency in the Hospitality and Leisure Industry

New hospitality facilities can save 20% or more on energy expenses by employing energy-efficient equipment and practices. These cost savings will lead to an enhanced bottom line, increased profits, and improved competitiveness in the hospitality industry, allowing these facilities to focus on attracting more guests. This article will introduce the best strategies to help businesses increase energy efficiency in the hospitality industry.

5 Steps to Increase Energy Efficiency in the Hospitality and Leisure Industry

Step 1: Calculate Energy Costs and Consumption

Before developing a plan to increase energy efficiency in the hospitality industry, it is essential to understand the types and amounts of energy your facility consumes. Energy consumption should be converted to a common unit, like gigajoules, to facilitate comparison with other facilities.

It is best to have records from the most recent 12-month period. You can request this data from your utility provider, who often retains customer information.

Below is an example of a 150-room hotel with 10,000 m2 of serviceable floor area, including a restaurant and a swimming pool. The facility consumes 200,000 kWh of electricity (at $0.08 per kWh, including demand charges) and 400,000 m3 of natural gas (at $0.28 per m3) annually.

SourceAnnual CostAnnual Consumption With Conversion FactorAnnual Consumption (gigajoules)
Electricity$160,0002 000 000 kWh x 0.0036= 7 200 GJ/yr
Natural Gas$112,000400 000 m3 x 0.0372= 14 880 GJ/yr
Total$272,000= 22 080 GJ/yr
  • Annual Energy Intensity by Room:

$272,000 ÷ 150 rooms = $1,813.33 per room/yr

22 080 GJ/yr ÷ 150 rooms = 147.2 GJ/room/yr

  • Annual Energy Intensity by Floor Area:

$272,000 ÷ 10 000 m2 = $27.20 per m2/yr

22 080 GJ/yr ÷ 10 000 m2 = 2.2 GJ/m2/yr

Step 2: Compare with Other Facilities

Benchmarking involves comparing your facility’s energy consumption with that of other similar facilities. Understanding differences in building age and the number of “degree-days” (a measure of the energy needed to heat or cool a facility to a stable temperature) in your area can provide valuable insights for optimising energy performance.

For example, a full-service hotel with additional amenities such as restaurants and pools may consume more energy. Similarly, fast-food restaurants typically use more energy than traditional restaurants due to larger meal production and higher lighting intensities during longer operating hours.

A hotel typically pays between £15/m² to £50/m² per month for energy. For restaurants, this number ranges from £50/m² to £275/m². However, utility prices can fluctuate daily, and national averages might differ from those in your region. Therefore, using gigajoules as a performance measure, which accurately reflects changes in technology, behaviour, and procedures, is more precise for benchmarking than using monetary amounts.

Step 3: Identify Areas of Energy Usage

To achieve energy efficiency in the hospitality industry, it is crucial to determine which areas of your facility consume the most energy and identify ways to reduce consumption in those areas.

For instance, a hotel’s energy consumption often includes lighting for guest rooms and common areas, HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning), and motors in equipment like lifts. In contrast, most energy in restaurants is consumed in the kitchen, while lighting is a major factor in fast-food restaurants.

You can contact an energy professional to audit and determine the exact types and amounts of energy used in your facilities. They can also suggest feasible retrofit solutions and help prepare an energy management plan.

Step 4: Invest in Energy Efficiency Retrofits

When implementing energy efficiency retrofits, many tend to focus on changes that pay for themselves quickly while overlooking those that offer long-term savings. The smart approach is to combine quick-payback and long-payback retrofits to maximise both immediate and long-term benefits.

5 Steps to Increase Energy Efficiency in the Hospitality and Leisure Industry
Source: Freepik

Lighting Retrofits

In hospitality facilities, including hotels, motels, and restaurants, lighting is essential around the clock to create a comfortable and safe environment for guests and enhance food presentation. Below are the top lighting retrofits for different areas:

  • Use photocells to ensure exterior lights operate only at night
  • Halogen lights for lobbies to save up to 50 percent on energy costs
  • Higher-quality fluorescent lamps for bathrooms
  • Compact fluorescents for guest rooms
  • T8 and T5 fluorescent bulbs for corridor lighting
  • Decorative halogen lights for ballrooms and conference rooms
  • Dimmable halogen lights for restaurant lighting
  • T5s or T8s with electronic ballasts for kitchen lighting
  • Occupancy sensors for back-of-house areas to ensure lights are on only when someone is present

Motors and Drives

It is estimated that around 50% of energy use in hospitality facilities is attributed to the motors of HVAC systems, lifts, and other equipment. Therefore, it is crucial to invest in energy-efficient motors, adjustable-speed drives (ASDs), power-factor correction capacitors, and energy-efficient drive belts.

HVAC Retrofits

Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems are essential for providing guests with comfort and satisfaction, but they also account for a facility’s highest energy expenses. Ensure that the functions of each HVAC component complement each other to achieve optimal efficiency.

HVAC Retrofits
Source: Freepik


For domestic hot water (DHW) used in showers, sinks, dishwashers, and clothes washers, it is important to choose the right system for your facility. You should consider installing water heater timers, low-flow aerators or showerheads, and low-flow or low-temperature commercial dishwashers.

For domestic cold water, which is used in toilets/urinals, fountains, taps, landscaping, water-cooled air conditioners, cooling towers, and humidification, you can reduce usage by over 20 percent by equipping low-flow toilets, waterless urinals, and urinal sensors.

Control systems

Some areas in hotels and restaurants, such as meeting rooms and laundry, are used only at certain times, causing significant fluctuations in energy needs. Meanwhile, they use different mechanical equipment for energy management on different schedules. Manually setting controls can lead to energy waste. Instead, employ energy management control systems to automate lighting, HVAC systems, and other equipment.

Building envelope

To increase energy efficiency in hospitality industry, you should consider investing in better-quality windows, doors, and insulation. Remember that it is often more cost-effective to make building-envelope improvements for new construction or major retrofits.

Other energy efficiency retrofits

Many other upgrades can enhance energy efficiency in both public areas and behind-the-scenes operations of your building.

For public spaces, consider installing pool covers, controls for vending machines, remote air-cooled ice machines, and energy-efficient computer monitors.

In operational areas, invest in high-efficiency cooking equipment, controllers for walk-in coolers, heavy plastic curtains to contain temperatures, combined heat and power systems that generate electricity and useful heat, heat recovery systems that capture wasted thermal energy, and optimised compressed air systems.

Other energy efficiency retrofits
Source: Freepik

Step 5: Calculate The Energy Saving Amount

Before proceeding with an energy enhancement investment, you may want to determine the payback period, or how long it will take for the investment to pay for itself. Simply put, it is the amount of time for energy savings to equal the purchase price of installing new equipment or adopting new measures.

For instance, if a new energy-efficient method costs £12,000 to implement and saves you £2,000 annually, the simple payback period is 6 years.

For old equipment at the end of its life cycle, the payback period is the time required to recoup the difference between an efficient and less efficient replacement unit. For example, if an energy-efficient replacement model costs £800 and a less efficient model costs £400, and investing in the efficient model saves you £200 per year, the incremental payback period is 2 years compared to purchasing the less efficient replacement model.

Find out more about: What Is Energy Risk Management? Types & Ways To Manage

Energy Saving Tips to Improve Energy Efficiency in the Hospitality Industry

While retrofits and equipment upgrades can significantly reduce costs, your facilities can still apply various low- or no-cost tips to reduce energy usage and save money.

Tips for Hotel

Guest Rooms

  • Instruct housekeepers not to turn on TVs when cleaning rooms. After making the bed, turn off all lights and appliances and set the temperature control to a minimum.
  • Open curtains to use natural light when cleaning rooms. Close curtains after cleaning so heat doesn’t escape or enter the room.
  • Display a board in the housekeeping area showing employees how to set the room temperature controls properly based on the daily weather forecast.
  • Instruct housekeepers not to leave water running when cleaning sinks and bathtubs.
  • Check for cracks or worn weatherstripping around doors and windows in all rooms, including vacant ones.
  • Install low-wattage night lights in bathrooms and entryways so guests don’t leave brighter lights on.
  • Use translucent lampshades to make rooms brighter without stronger bulbs.
  • Leave cards in guest rooms suggesting ways guests can help save energy during their stay.

Front Office and Public Areas

  • Keep windows and outside doors closed when the heating or air conditioning is running.
  • When setting up or cleaning meeting rooms, lower the temperature in winter and raise it in summer. Also, reduce lighting levels. Turn off heating, cooling, and lights when the rooms are empty.
  • Shut off office equipment such as photocopiers and computer monitors when you’re not using them.

Swimming Pools

  • Cover swimming pools when not being used.
  • Only backwash the pool filters when the pressure loss reaches the level recommended by the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Turn off any pool area lighting that isn’t needed for safety and security purposes.
  • Regularly check the pool water temperature to ensure it does not exceed 27°C (80.6°F).
Energy Saving Tips to Improve Energy Efficiency in the Hospitality Industry
Source: Freepik


  • Use the lowest temperature water setting that still gets the laundry properly cleaned and disinfected.
  • Look into using cold water for washing. Ask your laundry chemical supplier if this could save money.
  • Check that belts, pulleys, drain valves, and machine pressure are properly balanced and maintained.
  • Schedule laundry machines to run during off-peak hours to avoid higher energy demand charges.

Tips for Restaurant


  • Have a written procedure for turning off lights when the restaurant closes for the night. Assign a specific staff member to be responsible for this task. Turn off bright, high-energy lights as soon as the restaurant is closed and customers have left.

General Kitchen

  • Set schedules for when to turn on and off major kitchen equipment like air-deck ovens.
  • Follow the manufacturer’s instructions on how to operate kitchen equipment efficiently.
  • Don’t turn everything on first thing in the morning. Only switch equipment on when you actually need to use it, and turn it off when done.
  • Use pot and pan covers to keep heat in, so food cooks faster.
  • After busy times, turn off all but one of each type of equipment you have multiples of.
  • Don’t let fans blow directly on cooking surfaces and equipment.
  • Fill sinks with water instead of letting it run constantly when washing pots or veggies.
  • Rotary toasters use a lot of energy. Turn them off when not toasting, and clean them regularly.
Energy Saving Tips to Improve Energy Efficiency in the Hospitality Industry
Source: Freepik


  • Add extra insulation around water heaters and hot water storage tanks.
  • Avoid over-drying dishes in the dishwasher.
  • Check the rinse water temperature regularly to ensure the booster heater is set to the minimum required temperature.
  • Remove built-up limescale and hard water deposits from the dishwasher.

Food Refrigeration

  • Refrigerators work best around 37°F (3.2°C), and freezers between 0-5°F (-18 to -15°C).
  • Let hot food cool down before putting it in the refrigerator.
  • Don’t overpack refrigerator shelves. Air needs to circulate for proper cooling.
  • Defrost freezers frequently, as frost decreases efficiency. Use a thermometer to check temperatures and defrost during off-peak hours.
  • Keep freezer plastic curtains hanging straight down to separate cold and warm air zones.
  • Oil stains around compressors may mean leaks that need prompt servicing.

Optimise Your Energy Management System with Light Up Energy

Finding the best rates for business electricity and gas can be time-consuming if you approach suppliers directly.

While running a hospitality facility is busy work, you might not have time to figure out the best rates for your business energy. That’s why Light Up Energy provides an impartial energy consultancy service to simplify the process.

As an independent firm, we collaborate with a wide range of energy suppliers to find improved rates tailored to your business’s specific requirements. Our transparent recommendations are based solely on analysing unit prices, standing charges, and contract terms across multiple offers, without favouring any single supplier. Find out more about Compare Gas and Energy Quotes

Energy prices fluctuate constantly due to commodity markets, weather conditions, geopolitics, and seasonal demands. The consultants at Light Up Energy can monitor the markets and advise you on the optimal times to lock in lower rates, helping you save significant costs.

Optimise Your Energy Management System with Light Up Energy


How is energy used in hospitality industry?

In the hospitality industry, heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems are the largest energy consumers and account for the most significant portion of overall energy usage. Lighting and water heating systems are also major energy consumers in this industry.

How do you train employees to increase energy efficiency in hospitality industries?

To increase energy efficiency in hospitality industry, businesses must train their employees to adjust thermostats to reasonable temperatures for the season (21°C in winter and 26°C in summer), turn off all equipment when not in use, keep doors and windows closed when heating or cooling systems are running, and turn off exterior lighting during daylight hours.

How can hospitality businesses encourage guests to contribute to energy efficiency?

First, make your energy efficiency policies and plans visible at the front desk. These guidelines should explain the detailed actions to reduce energy use.
Guests should be informed of simple things they can do during their stay in your facility. The information could be provided in a pamphlet in their rooms or posted when they use certain hotel facilities. You could also show the saving energy reminders on the hotel’s TV channels and post them around guest rooms.

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Light Up Energy, founded by hospitality experts with 20+ years of experience, helps businesses save money via innovative energy management strategies.

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