Energy & Resources

Airconditioning: FreeSpirit finds remote solution to tricky problem

Have you ever arrived in your hot and humid guest room after a long journey and automatically turned the air conditioning unit down to the lowest setting possible?

Have you ever gone out for dinner and left the air-conditioning running on low? If so, am I right in thinking that you would never dream of doing this at home?

Most guests feel no responsibility for the high utility bills faced by accommodation providers because they reason “we are paying for the room!” Accommodation providers with split system air conditioning units can suffer immensely from the misuse of guest room air-con units and are reminded of this every time they are faced with huge utility bills.

Fortunately, FreeSpirit Resorts in Darwin has found a way to curb this waste of resources without compromising their guests’ comfort in the slightest.

To find out how FreeSprit Resorts has found a solution to this issue we spoke to Yvonne Bristow their chief operations officer. FreeSpirit Resorts manage two idyllic resorts situated in beautiful Darwin; nestled between tropical gardens and swaying palms; they are perfect tropical havens that are firm family favorites. They offer a wide range of accommodation and caravan and camping sites as well as a myriad of facilities and activities. There is only one problem… exceptionally high power bills! The cause? Excessive and extravagant guest usage in reaction to the very hot and humid tropical weather and the extreme cost of power in the territory.

The FreeSpirit resorts: the Hidden Valley Tourist Park and Darwin FreeSpirit are both located in the Darwin metro area and between them there are over 300 air conditioners in 180 rooms. At this volume there is a lot of potential for the spilt systems to be misused. The answer according to Ms Bristow was to purchase the new Ultima split system remote controller that restricts the operating range of temperatures for the air conditioning unit.

Jeff Castledine from Pulse Energy Solutions that supplied the Ultima remotes, explained why this simple solution works so well. The ideal and most comfortable temperature for most people should be set somewhere between 21-24°C. Split systems generally run most efficiently and for minimum cost at around 24ºC. For every degree of variation away from 24ºC the running cost increases by 8-10%. If the pre-set temperature for a cabin is a comfortable 23° and a guest lowers it to 18° they have increased that utility cost by up to 50%!

By using a remote that limits the temperature range to between 21° and 24° you are guaranteed to make savings while still allowing the guest to have control of the room temperature, without compromising the guests comfort. He says, “Our new Ultima II is an elegant solution to a difficult problem.”

Ms Bristow completely agrees and admits, “By restricting the range of temperature we have saved time, labour and expense of wearing out our compressors in the air conditioners within the resort.” She explains, “Prior to installing these controllers we were frequently having to attend a guest room to defrost a compressor that was a total block of ice.”

In a tropical climate maintaining a balance of temperature is essential, if not many costly maintenance issues can occur due to excessive condensation. In this case Ms Bristow says that many compressors have been regularly replaced at the cost of $3000 a unit, she adds, “with over 300 air conditioners – the math for the saving is simple!”

Since installing the remote controllers over 12 months ago they have not had to replace one air conditioner.

According to Ms Bristow the overall benefits have been: a reduction in energy costs, the simple installation process, the extended life of the air conditioning units and a huge reduction in labour and maintenance costs.

At FreeSpirit Resorts an entire air conditioning unit was being replaced at least once a week prior to using the Ultima, incredibly this has been diminished to one approximately every six weeks. Ms Bristow highly recommends the Ultima II split system remote controller saying, “Would I recommend this product to another operator? Yes most definitely. Would I use them again? Yes most definitely. We have actually already placed them in a further five resorts that we were managing at the time. All have had similar good news stories.”

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