If you’ve traveled to Europe (and probably other parts of the world) and stayed in a hotel, you’ve probably experienced the surprise of not having lights or electricity in your room when you first walk in (especially if you check in at night). If you’re new to traveling overseas from the U.S., you’ll find that most hotels require you to put your room key card into a device on the wall to “activate” the electricity in the entire room.
To me, this is a great idea for hotels to save costs on utilities, although it may result in a number of “lockouts” where the room guest forgets to take their key card when they leave the room. Outside of that issue (which I was aware enough to avoid on our stints throughout Europe), hotels can ensure lights/TV are turned off when someone checks out or just leaves for a few minutes/hours, and when the room cleaning is complete. For the guest, it’s a place where you’ll always know where your key card is…that’s about the best benefit I can think of for guests though.
After traveling the few years across the country and parts of Europe and Middle East, I found that it’s really only in the U.S. where the hotel has the A/C or heat blasting and lights on in the room when you arrive (the nicer hotels at least). It’s great when you arrive from a long flight or drive to have a comfortable, lit room, but when you think about it, how many hotel rooms are there like this on any given day across the country? Think about all the electricity being wasted for your initial impression and comfort.
So my question is why don’t U.S. hotels adopt the “card method” for controlling room power? I would imagine the energy savings would pay back the installation and maintenance costs fairly rapidly, but perhaps other world travelers or those in the industry know otherwise or have other opinions/experiences?