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Tracking energy use by guest, for small hotels, inns and B&Bs?

The owner of a local B&B has been slowly improving the energy footprint of his business and recently mentioned to me that he is thinking of trying to track energy use per guest. He notes that there are other metrics related to guest stays. Like any business, there are the fixed costs of running a business, such as heating and lighting the common areas and keeping guest rooms at some minimum temperature, and then there are the variable costs associated with each guest for each night of stay. The variable cost of fuel can have a notable impact on the bottom line. Presently, all of his rooms have their own propane space heater. The thermostat is turned down when a guest leaves and turned back up when a new one is to arrive.
Has anyone had any experience with trying to track energy use per guest per night?


  • David ButlerDavid Butler Posts: 3,838
    There's no way to track marginal energy consumption above the baseline. Instead, he could measure total usage by day and then back into the baseline when the room isn't rented, normalized for HDD's.

    Multi-channel energy monitors are available that measure kWh, but the propane would require gas meters. I've had clients with natural gas buy surplus meters at a very low cost in order to sub-meter an individual gas appliance. But I'm not sure those meters would work with propane. Perhaps someone else here has experience with that. But the inexpensive surplus gas meters are not web compatible so he would need to add an IP-capable meter reader (attaches to face of meter). Those aren't cheap.

    Personally, I don't think this is realistic, certainly not for every room if he's considering charging customers for excess consumption. That would probably be a first, and likely kill his business!

    If he just wants to see the range of consumption for rented rooms, he could set up an electric and gas monitor on just one of the rooms then over time he could determine the baseline and range. He would want to normalize propane consumption for HDD, otherwise the variance due to outside temp would totally mask the guest variance.
  • Per guest as David points out is just simply not doable - did one take a five minute shower while one took a fifteen? The only way to get close is sub-meter each room which would probably also have to include hot water as most go through a central boiler & depending on your area can be the biggest cost
  • Brad CookBrad Cook Posts: 153
    I was thinking more along the lines of tracking all propane and electric use for the property, try to separate the demand for the common areas? track occupancy by #of rooms in use? by number of rooms in use and average number of guests per room being used? tracking HDDs (which is not all that accurate, especially on a daily scale).
    The cost of energy is certainly a very notable cost of doing business and does fluctuate by occupancy. I believe that there is merit in tracking it, if it is possible to do that reasonably and obtain some reasonably useful metrics. Those metrics could help to better plan and better adjust for the variables of weather/temperature, occupancy and cost of energy.
    I am wondering if there is anyone out there that has tried to do this.

    BTW, meters for propane are common, and are often used in multi-family housing here. Maybe one meter could serve just the guest rooms, which could be read daily and compared to occupancy. The same could be done with a flow meter for the hot water to the guest rooms.
  • David ButlerDavid Butler Posts: 3,838
    Sorry, I misunderstood your comment "track energy use per guest". If he just wants to know the average guest consumption, then your approach is best... monitor everything except the guest rooms. The # of kWh channels required depends on how the B&B (presumably a house) was wired. Ditto with propane plumbing. And if guest rooms are supplied by a different boiler than the owners, the you can do that with a gas meter, Otherwise, you'd need a BTU meter to segregate the two (flow + delta-T).

    Segregating kitchen energy from owner's personal meals is another big hairball if they serve a cooked breakfast. (Since you said B&B, I'm assuming owner lives in the same building.)
  • B&Bs normally have slow periods and busy periods. Measure entire business usage during slow and busy periods then look at the guest count for the busy month. Trying to get minutia seems like a large task that might not produce a good average.
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