Saving Energy

Sustainable Tourism

Saving Energy

This toolkit is part of the Low Carbon Lake District 2 Project which is funded by the UK European Structural and Investment Fund Programme.

In an increasingly complex energy market, a smart and sustainable approach to energy management is vital for tourism operators wanting to cut costs, save time and build a brighter future for their business.

Reducing your energy consumption not only saves carbon, it also saves you money. According to the Energy Saving Trust the average small and medium sized enterprise (SME) could reduce energy bills by 18-25% by installing energy efficiency measures and implementing behavioural change.  The worry is for tourism and hospitality businesses that saving energy will impact on the visitor experience, but that isn’t necessarily the case.

The Carbon Trust’s Tourism and Hospitality Energy Saving Guide is a good place to start. While some of the facts and figures are a little out of date the theory remains the same. The graphs below give an indicative breakdown of energy use within and average hotel and pub. As you can see there are a few key areas of consumption where there are opportunities to make savings.

The guide provides recommended room temperatures for different areas within accommodation alongside other, simple and low cost energy saving techniques such as ensuring you have thermostatic radiator valves. Heating costs increase by around 8% for every 1 degree increase in temperature, so making sure you are set to the optimum levels can make a big difference.

Average energy use in hotels and pubs - Sustainable Tourism - Cumbria Tourism

Another good guide is the Government’s Energy Saving Guide for SMEs. Whilst not tourism specific there are plenty of relevant learnings, especially around maintaining equipment and refrigeration.

The Zero Carbon Forum is a Tourism focused membership organisation which is offering free resources and guidance on energy saving, including manager checklists and Barrista shut down guides. This is part of their Save while you Sleep scheme.

Behaviour Change

Most of these energy saving measures rely on people within your organisation and behaviour change. Communicating what you are doing and why to your staff is key to success. The Energy Saving Trust provide a Guide to Energy Efficiency for Employees which should help.

Top Tips on Saving Energy

Measure to manage

  • Monitor your usage: Record meter readings and fuel deliveries. Combine with guest nights sold over the same period to compare performance over time.
  • Provide meter readings to your energy provider to ensure your bills are accurate.
  • A hotel energy calculator from Hotel Energy Solutions enables small accommodation providers to assess their current energy use against similar tourism businesses. It also helps rank practical energy efficient and renewable investment options.

Keep the heat in

  • Ask for a boiler efficiency test in your annual service.
  • Effective draught-proofing is low cost. Keep seals/brushes in good condition.
  • It is very cost effective to insulate roofs and unfilled cavity walls. Insulating solid walls is more expensive and complex, but good maintenance that keeps them dry will improve performance by 40%. Use double/secondary glazing whenever possible.
  • Check heated towel rails aren’t left on during the day, if using electricity.
  • Install heating controls with a range of set timings, where the start time to be adjusted to outside temperatures. Ensure radiators have thermostatic controls (TRVs). Explain them to guests and ensure staff turn them down between stays (as empty rooms can be kept at 14 degrees without dampness).
  • Allow space between heating panels / radiators and furniture to allow heat to circulate.
  • Prioritise areas kept at a high temperature, such as a pool or spa areas, and ensure covers are used for pools and hot tubs/jacuzzis. Ensure recommended temperatures are followed.


  • Prioritise improvements where lighting is on for the longest. This could include corridors, external lighting, and other public or ‘back of house’ areas.
  • LEDs cost a fraction of halogen/tungsten lighting to run and last much longer. They are also instantly bright, unlike compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs). See the Which? Buyers Guide to LEDs
  • Thermally lined curtains and blinds both help retain heat within a room (and provide a darker room for guests to sleep in). Also ensure you maximise natural light, by keeping windows and skylights clean and fully drawing curtains. You could even consider sun tubes.

Ask The Experts


Zero Carbon Business provides handy advice on: switching to renewable energy, improving your insulation and windows, and getting a heat pump to heat your property and water supply.

This toolkit is part of the Low Carbon Lake District 2 Project which is funded by the UK European Structural and Investment Fund Programme.