San Francisco Hyatt Regency: How not to do ‘Energy Management’

Lights turn off when you’re in the shower … and other “energy-efficiency” fails at the San Francisco (SFO) Hyatt Regency.


My room this week at the newly refurbished Hyatt Regency San Francisco Airport (SFO) hotel is nicely upgraded with new carpets and tiling. Unfortunately, the makeover team seems to have forgotten about in-room technology, especially the “green” stuff that is supposed to make the place more energy efficient.

Let’s start with the basics. There is only one electrical outlet anywhere near the desk. It is attached to the lamp.

Not a deal breaker. That’s why I travel with a power strip, which I plugged into the lamp. And then I plugged in my nearly-drained laptop, phone and tablet, flipped off the room’s entry light and slipped into bed.

Next morning: dead phone, dead PC, dead tablet.

There, I fixed it.

As it turns out, the entryway switch, which turns the entry lights on and off, also controls the switched outlets in the room. The lamp — and everything attached to it — plugs into a switched outlet. So when you turn off the entry light, you also turn off the lamp and its electronic tag-alongs.

That means, if you want to keep the plugged-in devices juicing, you must keep the entry lights on. They must stay on while you’re away from the room (leave a note for the housekeeper to keep them on, by the way) and while you sleep, which not only kills any energy efficiencies supposedly captured by the switch, but also defeats the purpose of the black-out shades.

Your best bet is a sleep mask.

That’s energy-management fail No. 1.

The second big fail is the occupancy/vacancy sensor in the bathroom. The sensor resides on the light switch, meaning when the shower curtain is closed, no motion is detected. When no motion is detected … blackout.

I take short showers, I really do. Occasionally I indulge when there’s a nice clean, bright shower with adequate water pressure, which there was (at least then, not now, as the hotel is shutting off water for five hours).

In darkness, if I wanted light, I had to put my right foot out and shake it all about.

Here's the most egregious effect of all: In the middle of the night, you're stumbling to the bathroom and the lights in there turn to full bright, all at once. There's nothing you can do about it, just take your burnt eyeballs, do your business, and then run smack into the mirror on the way out because your world is now pitch dark.

Won’t it be fun when more “energy-saving” regulations come to California’s Title 24?

And in the final salute to unintended consequences: The fancy Kohler bath with the fancy dual showerheads is too confusing for new users. Too many buttons to press and knobs to turn.

So if one of those showerheads happens to be aimed directly at the bathroom when you activate the shower, it might take a good 10 seconds to wipe your eyes and figure out how to turn the thing off, at which point, you and your clothes have already gotten a good soaking. 

If you want to keep your plugged-electronics live, you must keep that big entry light on at all times, even while you're asleep or away.

That's no tiny entry light that must remain on.

The offending light switch. When you turn the light off, the switched outlets in the room shut off.

NextLive from California: Why Title 24 Lighting Laws are Stupid


About the Author

Julie Jacobson
Julie Jacobson:

Julie Jacobson is founding editor of CE Pro, the leading media brand for the home-technology channel. She has covered the smart-home industry since 1994, long before there was much of an Internet, let alone an Internet of things. Currently she studies, speaks, writes and rabble-rouses in the areas of home automation, security, networked A/V, wellness-related technology, biophilic design, and the business of home technology. Julie majored in Economics at the University of Michigan, spent a year abroad at Cambridge University, and earned an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin. She is a recipient of the annual CTA TechHome Leadership Award, and a CEDIA Fellows honoree. A washed-up Ultimate Frisbee player, Julie currently resides in San Antonio, Texas and sometimes St. Paul, Minn. Follow on Twitter: @juliejacobson