Mini Series: Hotels' environmental efforts

Episode N°3: Card systems

#advice #hotel #comfort #ecology #files

hotel card

SEPTEMBER 20, 2022

Today's third episode is dedicated to another invention, which allows many energy savings: the key card.

It is a must in the hotel industry: for several years now, access to rooms can no longer be gained via a traditional key but by using a magnetic card. This device was invented by the Norwegian Tor Sørnes in 1975 to increase security in hotel rooms. It quickly spread internationally thanks to its efficiency and simplicity, and National Geographic cited this invention as one of the "7 most brilliant inventions that changed the way we travel"..

With this device, it is possible to record the entry and exit of the occupants of a room and in particular to establish the occupancy profile of the room. By connecting the key card to a switch, it is therefore possible to turn off the electricity in a room directly when the guest leaves and to turn it back on when the card is inserted. 

The system of card locks allowing to cut off the electricity in the rooms is part of the technical solutions allowing to respect the criteria of efforts to be made on the energy consumption, obligatory in order to obtain the EcoLabel (which we have already mentioned in this series). This allows for significant savings (from 20 to 40% on electricity consumption), which can of course be modulated according to the nature of the electrical appliances connected to the device (if only the lighting is concerned, the savings are less than with a system that turns off the heating).

In conclusion, however, it should be noted that such a solution may have some disadvantages. On the one hand, it requires a review of the hotel's installation if it is existing (and not new) and therefore work whose return on investment is estimated at 3 years on average. Moreover, connecting the heating and/or air conditioning to such a device (which is the largest energy expense item) can be brutal (it prevents, for example, from preheating a room in winter); corrections on the management of this consumption item thus seem necessary.


1 Discover 7 brilliant inventions that changed travel forever, National Geographic, October 24, 2018.

2 Card lock system to cut off the electricity in the rooms, Ecolabel Toolbox