Energy Savings at the Arenal Observatory
One thing many guests notice upon their arrival to the Arenal Observatory Lodge & Spa is the lack of air conditioners, televisions, and refrigerators in their rooms. The absence of these amenities is not by coincidence. Deciding not to include these amenities in the rooms helps the Observatory Lodge in its mission to protect the biodiversity of the Costa Rican rainforest, and makes it one of the leaders in conservation initiatives in the La Fortuna region.
Fortunately, the microclimate at the Arenal Observatory Lodge & Spa makes air conditioners an unnecessary luxury. At 700 meters above sea level, and secluded within the Tilarán Mountain Range, the lodge experiences much cooler average temperatures when compared to the nearby La Fortuna. This omission of air conditioners at the Observatory Lodge results in a savings of roughly 6,625 kWh per month (KOMPULSA, n.d.). This energy usage would be the equivalent of washing 220 loads of dirty laundry daily (USwitch, 2019).
Currently, the lodge has four televisions. One in each of their private vacation villas and two more in the sitting areas of the reception and the restaurant. This way, people who like to watch a bit of television in the morning or evening still may. However, if each room was equipped with its own television, the number of televisions would increase by 53 units. While it’s true that modern day LED televisions are more efficient than their plasma or fluorescent counterparts, with 53 extra televisions the hotel’s energy usage would increase by 110 kWh per month (KOMPULSA, n.d.). An amount calculated using the lodge’s average occupancy and 1-hour usage per room per day. Instead, this energy could power the laptops or cellphones of the same number of users for nearly 6 days (USwitch, 2019). With modern streaming services, laptops and cellphones have already been affecting the television and cable markets. Coupled with the limited availability of English programming in Costa Rica excluding televisions and cable packages from the rooms makes even more sense.
As of today, the Arenal Observatory has 5 rooms equipped with mini-fridges. These rooms are all classified as their junior suites. Equipping all of the rooms with this amenity would require the purchase and installation of 48 additional units. The result would be increased energy usage of approximately 1000 kWh per month. This would be comparable to having 277 5-watt LED lights turned on 24 hours a day.
Although the majority of energy produced in Costa Rica is from renewable sources, energy production is still the fourth largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions within the country (MINAE, 2012). By limiting unnecessary energy use within the property, the Arenal Observatory Lodge & Spa is directly contributing to the reduction of carbon emissions, indirectly helping conserve Costa Rican biodiversity.
KOMPULSA. (n.d.). How Much Power Are Your Appliances Actually Consuming? Retrieved April 11, 2019, from https://www.kompulsa.com/how-much-power-are-your-appliances-consuming/
MINAE. (2012). Inventario nacional de gases de efecto invernadero y absorción de carbono. Instituto Meteorológico Nacional.
USwitch. (2019, March 26). Expert advice on understanding energy usage in kilowatts. Retrieved April 11, 2019, from https://www.uswitch.com/gas-electricity/guides/uswitch-guide-to-kwh/