According to the American Hotel and Lodging Association, eight in 10 hotel rooms across the nation remain empty as a result of COVID-19 pandemic. As hotel managers seek to cut costs in any way possible, INNCOM seeks to remind the industry that it offers a feature meant to reduce energy consumption and manage unoccupied rooms efficiently: Hibernation Mode. To learn more about it, HT spoke with Christian Leclerc, General Manager, INNCOM by Honeywell.
Where did the idea for Hibernation Mode come from?
The idea for Hibernation Mode originated from a customer request from around 20 years ago. The customer was looking to shut down a portion of their business during its offseason. The unrented temperature band of 60-80F or even 50-90F was still using more energy than they wanted. This inspired the creation of Hibernation Mode, equipped with the range of 40-100F bands, to control energy use and cut costs for unoccupied rooms.
How does it work?
Hibernation Mode is a built-in feature to many of INNCOM’s solutions, including the INNControl guestroom management system and the E528 and e7 thermostats. The feature can be remotely activated when requested by the customer and sets a room’s HVAC system to a minimal energy use mode designed specifically for rooms that will be off market for an extended period of time. In this mode, temperature control bands are set very wide (50-95F, 12-35C, adjustable), while still monitoring and controlling room humidity when so configured.
During normal operations, INNCOM’s range of programmable thermostats can help save a hotelier money by automatically opening the guestroom temperature band based on room occupancy and rental status. When the room is unoccupied and unrented, for instance, the INNCOM Energy Management System adjusts to a colder temperature range in the winter or warmer in the summer than when the room is rented. Using smart occupant sensor technology, the system can immediately recognize when a guest is in a room and automatically reset the temperature into a more comfortable range or allow it to float within a certain comfortable temperature band.
When it is time to restore a room’s settings so that it can be comfortable and rented out to a guest, a hotel manager can manually cancel the mode, or they can simply check a room in via the property management system. For networked systems, the check-in will automatically cancel the Hibernation Mode feature and return it to normal guest-friendly energy savings.
Today, INNCOM’s support team has been able to place entire hotels or major portions of hotels in Hibernation Mode for maximum energy savings, simply by sending a message to the existing thermostats over the existing network.
How much money could it potentially save a hotel?
The cost and energy savings would very much depend on the temperature range of the normal unrented band vs the “hibernate” band set by the system, the general climate the hotel is located in, and the months covered. During shoulder months in many climates, which include comfortable temperatures between 45-65F, wider temperature bands provided by Hibernation Mode would require far less heating or cooling. In some cases and climates, there may be times when no heating or cooling is needed in a room for an extended period of time.
Does it have future applications post-COVID-19?
This feature was already built-in and tested years ago, so its capabilities and purposes go beyond this current COVID-19 environment. It was just standing by and ready to support customers’ energy savings needs in this difficult time.
For the future, hoteliers can utilize this feature for just about any time a room is unavailable for numerous reasons. For instance, any time a wing, floor, building, or property go offline for more than a few days, it makes sense to reduce energy consumption and cost. Examples include floor or wing renovations, off seasons, unused overflow room blocks, etc.