Sonesta ES Suites electrifies their water heating equipment at no-cost

As California works to pass legislation prohibiting the sale of new gas furnaces and water heaters, many companies are proactively upgrading aging gas appliances to electric. Sonesta International Hotels, the 8th largest hotel company in the U.S., chose to pursue this for their water heating systems at their San Diego Sonesta ES Suites properties to comply with California’s aggressive climate goals while also supporting their company’s own electrification goals.

Sonesta’s Regional Director of Engineering attended an in-person event hosted by the Comprehensive Energy Management Solutions (CEMS) program last summer highlighting heat pump water heater (HPWH) incentives offerings available to San Diego businesses. After the presentation, he connected with the CEMS team to pursue opportunities available to upgrade existing gas water heaters in Sonesta ES Suites’ San Diego facilities to HPWHs. The CEMS team facilitated site visits, resulting in two Sonesta properties being selected for HPWH upgrades.

One of the installed heat pump water heaters.

Heat pump water heaters support commercial building electrification and can improve comfort

HPWHs play a role in building electrification, which is the process of converting building systems fueled by gas power to instead be operated on electricity. Electrification can reduce operational costs, improve indoor-air quality, lower a building’s carbon footprint, and reduce overall energy usage. HPWHs are one of the most eco-friendly electric water heating technologies on the market, being three times more efficient than standard electric water heaters.

In addition to using less energy than other water heaters, the Sonesta team noticed another unexpected benefit to the upgrade. The heat pump technology used in HPWHs releases cool air into surrounding spaces, changing the climate in the typically warm basement areas where they were installed in Sonesta’s buildings. This caused a decrease in usage of air conditioning needed to help keep staff comfortable in the basements, leading to additional electricity bill savings.

The completed hot water tank insulation.

Sonesta also opted to install hot water tank insulation at one of their sites, increasing the energy savings of the overall project. Hot water tank insulation is an easy way to reduce a building’s utility costs. The insulation is wrapped around a hot water tank to help the water inside it retain heat, reducing energy needed to increase the water temperature. The whole installation process only takes around 30 minutes, making this an easy add-on to improve a water heating project’s efficiency.

Six HPWHs and two water tank insulations were installed across the two Sonesta locations, qualifying for a total rebate amount of $102,524. This meant that the water heater electrification process was completed at no cost to them.

The Sonesta team plans to stay in touch with the CEMS program to see what other incentives can benefit their properties.

CEMS can help your business reduce their energy usage with electrification projects

In the San Diego region, CEMS was able to help businesses save 3,549 metric tons of CO2 and 670,000 therms of gas by installing HPWHs in 2023. HPWHs are one of several electrification rebates available from CEMS for San Diego area commercial businesses. Learn more about the opportunities available for San Diego businesses to electrify here.

Header Image: Sonesta ES Suites San Diego Carmel Mountain

Last Updated: March 13, 2024