CONTROL ENERGY COSTS THROUGH PREVENTIVE MAINTENANCE

With chill settling in across most of the country, hotel owners and operators have yet to see the worst energy bills predicted to be 35 percent or higher than last winter's. The hikes can be minimized through an effective preventive maintenance (PM) program.

A mid-winter PM strategy should emphasize areas where improper sealing allows heat to escape. Weather-strip and seal around all doors and windows. Examine air ductwork for leaks and repair where appropriate. Also check HVAC controls for proper calibration, regularly change filters and inspect system insulation for moisture. Replace insulation if necessary. Check air handlers regularly; improperly maintained, they can waste up to 32 percent of the energy they consume.

In guestrooms, install energy management systems that power down HVAC equipment when guests are out. Use fluorescent lighting where possible, as compact fluorescent bulbs use 80 percent less energy than incandescent ones. Dust lamps regularly.

Install flow control into all taps and showers. Insulate hot water pipes and keep hot water systems as near as possible to where most frequent use occurs.

Check electrical systems for loose connections or poor motor conditions. In the laundry room, clean dryer lint screens at least once a day. In the kitchen, clean interior oven walls to improve heat transfer, and regularly clean grease and food particles from exhaust hoods. If you have an indoor pool, monitor pool temperatures frequently to ensure thermostats are working correctly. Also clean filters and strainer baskets.

An effective PM program this winter can keep energy costs to a minimum, extend the life span of your valuable equipmen, reduce labor and repair costs and keep guests and staff warm and content.


Mark Sokol is director of product marketing for Dunedin, FL-based Mintek Mobile Data Solutions, whose solutions are used in full-service properties ranging from 140 rooms to more than 2,000. Call 727-734-9175 or e-mail mark.sokol@mintek.com. For more information on energy management, use the reader service card in the back of the magazine to contact these companies: Amana Heating & Air Conditioning, circle 14; INNCOM International, circle 99; ;Lodging Technology Corporation, circle 24; Mintek, circle 97.

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