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8 Tips for Adopting Energy-Efficient Lighting in Hotels and Motels of Any Size


Whether you’re an energy manager for a large hotel or you run a small, independent motel, energy costs are one of the largest parts of your operating budget. However, your facility can realize enormous energy savings by adopting an energy-efficient lighting strategy. Many leaders in the hotel management industry may already be familiar with such a strategy, but for those who need some advice on how to save money on electric bills, here are eight tips for equipping your facility with energy-efficient lighting.

1. Replace incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs)

CFL bulbs use about two-thirds less energy than standard incandescent light bulbs and can be the easiest, most direct way to adopt energy-efficient lighting. Although CFLs had an early reputation for being limited in style and producing less light than their incandescent counterparts, those limitations have all but disappeared. Now CFLs come in a wide variety of styles and sizes and are just as bright. CFLs are more expensive than incandescent bulbs but they can last six to 10 times longer and save you about $25 to $30 in electricity costs over the lifetime of a single bulb. Make sure to compare lumens, not watts, when shopping for replacement bulbs. Watts represent the amount of energy used while lumen indicate brightness.

2. Replace “conventional” fluorescent lamps with energy-efficient fluorescent lamps

Many lodging facilities use fluorescent lighting in high traffic areas such as the lobby or office area. Consider swapping out your old fluorescent lamps with energy-efficient lamps that use 30 percent to 40 percent less electricity. These models are marked “T-12,” “T-8,” or “T-5,” which represents the diameter of the bulb in eighth-inches (for example, a T-12 lamp is 12/8 inch, or 1 1/2 inches, in diameter). Be sure to pair your new bulbs with the correct corresponding ballast, a device necessary for fluorescent lamp operation that regulates the bulb’s starting and operating characteristics.

3. Automate the regulation of electric power in a room

Consider installing a key tag system at the entrance of each guest room. The system uses a room key-card to activate and deactivate a master switch that turns on power to the room when guests are present and turns it off when guests leave. This technique ensures that only occupied rooms consume energy. Lighting, heating, air conditioning, radio and television can all be connected to the master switch.

4. Install occupancy or motion sensors

Use passive infrared or ultrasonic sensors to control lighting according to occupancy. These devices turn lights on when motion is detected and turn lights off when motion is no longer detected. Passive infrared sensors detect changes in heat and are best suited for large, unobstructed areas. An ultrasonic sensor emits sounds waves above the range of human hearing and detects differences in the time the waves take to return to the device. Ultrasonic sensors can detect motion around obstructions and are ideal for areas with cabinets and shelving, restrooms and places requiring 360-degree coverage.

5. Install nightlights that use light-emitting diodes (LEDs)

Many guests opt to leave a light on for themselves or their children while they sleep. While this may help them navigate an unfamiliar room at night, it wastes electricity. Instead of having guests turn on the bathroom light and crack the door, as is often the case, offer a nightlight to help them get around. One model uses six LEDs installed in the panel of a light switch.

6. Install EXIT signs that use LEDs

One of the advantages of LEDs is that they produce bright light while using about 95 percent less electricity than incandescent bulbs and 75 percent less than CFLs. Another advantage is that they last for about 20 years. Installing EXIT signs that use LEDs for illumination will not only save money, it will virtually eliminate the need to replace bulbs in the signs.

7. Add lighting controls

Installing lighting controls that use photo sensors to monitor daylight conditions is a great way to ensure that lights work only when needed. While a common solution is to turn on outdoor lighting fixtures at dusk and turn them off at dawn, lights using photo sensors are also a good choice for interior lighting in common areas with many windows that may not need lighting during much of the day. While on/off switches work well, there are also options for stepped controls and for continuous dimming controls, which are aesthetically appealing and offer the greatest energy savings.

8. Use high intensity discharge (HID) exterior lighting

Finally, make sure the exterior of your hotel or motel takes advantage of HID lighting. HID technology is much more efficient than incandescent, quartz-halogen and most fluorescent fixtures.

Have you adopted energy-efficient lighting for your hotel or motel? Share your story and let us know if you have other useful lighting tips for fellow professionals.


The State of Michigan, “Energy Efficient Lighting.”

1/4/2012 2:27:00 PM
in Energy Education