Victoria hotel sold on savings after trying a few bulbs first

'It's easier if it's done over time, instead of one big cash layout'

When it comes to saving money on energy, even small steps add up. And when you're talking about replacing hundreds of inefficient light bulbs, there are a lot of small steps to take.

"I've been here for almost four years, and the owner had just started replacing light bulbs in our manor building when I arrived," recalls Gil McGeachie, Maintenance Manager at the Royal Scot Hotel and Suites in Victoria. "I pushed the program through all the rest of the hotel, because the energy savings were worth it, and now we're probably about 95% complete."

The Royal Scot has 176 rooms, most of which are one bedroom suites. The two-building establishment includes a pool, hot tub, fitness room and meeting rooms.

With an environmental commitment that's been recognized by a three-key rating under the Green Key Eco-Rating program for hotels and resorts, upgrading the Royal Scot to energy efficient lighting just made sense. But changing incandescent lights to compact fluorescents – especially the trilight bulbs used in several lamps in each suite – was expensive.

McGeachie says that's why the hotel took a slow approach – and made use of BC Hydro incentives all along the way.

"It's easier for me to implement it if it's done over time, instead of one big cash layout," he notes. "We do have budgets, and we can only spend so much money. So to try and sell this change to the owner it was easier to do it over a period of time than to try to do it all at once."

The hotel's common areas were the first to receive energy efficient lights, since they draw electricity around the clock. Then the suites were changed over, bit by bit.

$3,130 in rebates, $1,858 in annual savings

The company has made nine separate applications to BC Hydro for rebates on its upgrades, receiving a total of $3,130 to defray the up-front costs.

"The incentive makes all the difference in the world," says McGeachie. "It would be really hard to pay $20 a pop for a light bulb if we didn't have that, even though long term it would pay itself off."

The hotel has continually shaved money off its bills, now saving an estimated $1,858 per year on electricity. McGeachie says there are savings on maintenance too, since the new lights need to be replaced far less often than the old ones.

Colour temperature is key

While some of the Royal Scot's guests stay the typical one or two nights, the hotel boasts a large number of "long-stay" guests who return each winter from the prairies to escape the snow. McGeachie says some didn't like the efficient lights at first, but with trial and error he was able to identify the right lights with the right colour temperature for each application.

"It makes a big difference," he says. "The cooler lighting is just a little brighter. With our long stay guests in the winter, they're getting older, and finding it a little harder to see, so the bright light's really good. They like that bright, crisp look.

"Going with energy efficient lights saves money, plus a lot of our clientele really like our environmental commitment. We want to conserve energy and like we say, save the planet, and people like to see that. Some people don't care, but the majority of people do."