How to manage high electricity consumption ? It’s winter and guests tend to keep the heating on all the time which is getting expensive for me. What should I do

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Nusrat12
Level 1
North Kellyville, Australia

How to manage high electricity consumption ? It’s winter and guests tend to keep the heating on all the time which is getting expensive for me. What should I do

It’s winter and guests tend to keep the heating on all the time which is getting very expensive. How to manage such a situation 

1 Best Answer
Tariq52
Level 4
Squamish, Canada

In my opinion, giving the guests control of the temperature is important, as everyone has a different comfort level - and you want your guests to be comfortable! 

 

What I do is employ technology to optimize the heating schedules and set the appropriate temperature throughout the day. I don't give the onus on the guest to turn things off. Even my lights are controlled by smart technology that turn on and off at a certain time. Basically the guest doesn't have to control anything. But if they wish to do so, they still have that ability.

 

For the heat, I use Mysa smart thermostats which control the temperature setting throughout the day. The default temperature in the winter is 21 degrees Celsius and it resets every 2 hours or so. The guest can still change the temperature manually, but it will eventually reset to the default, which helps cut down on costs. The thermostats also lower the temperature at night when the guests are typically sleeping (which is actually better for most people). So far, I haven't noticed anyone changing the temperature manually. 

For my lights, I use Phillips Hue smart bulbs which have replaced at least 90% of the lights in the home. They turn on around sunset and gradually turn off by 11pm. I give the guests instructions on how to use them and generally have had no issues. I also have a smart lock that locks after 60 seconds.

 

It does take some time and cost setting these things up initially, but in the long run it's probably the most efficient way to cut down on power and heat consumption. I can monitor everything on my phone and receive alerts for the heat setting if it gets too high. Everything can be controlled by my phone which is a huge plus.

 

Depending on the size of your place, setting up these automations could get quite involved. So, I suggest starting with the main thermostats and lights. I have about 5 electric baseboard heaters in my Airbnb. What I did was set up 2 smart thermostats and disabled the other ones. I also just removed any lights which were not necessary.

 

When I return home after a guest's stay, the only things that might still be on are the hood fan light and the bathroom fan. Everything else resets!

 

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14 Replies 14
Melanie318
Level 10
Interlochen, MI

I have been in the hotel business for 30 plus years, and the last 16 with the Bed and Breakfast we currently own,  there is nothing you can do to stop people from turning up the heat and leaving it on. Its the cost of doing business. Sad to say because it can't get expensive, and unfortunately, guests don't care that it is going to cost your bill to go up. They rented the property and that is their "right" to put the heat where they want it. Can be frustrating as heck. We have the situation with our air conditioners in the summer - they crank them on high, open the windows (yes, I said open the windows) and then think nothing of the fact that they are running up the electric bill.   When we were in Italy the place we stayed had a cool system that helped to control the temps when we were out. They gave us a key card for the door, and when you open the door, you took the key card and put it in a "box" on the wall that controlled the heater/air conditioner. Once you put the key card in, you could adjust it and such. When you went to leave, you had to take the key card out (so you could get back in the door when you returned) and when you took out the key card, the heat/air conditioner continued to keep the place at a stable temperature that was pre-set by the owners. So it didn't allow you to crank up the heat/air and then leave with it running.  

I don't agree with "there is nothing you can do to stop people from turning up the heat and leaving it on" as long as you have a clean and clear way to communicate and set the expectation while having a way to measure and report their individual consumption.

 

Do you have a way to monitor consumption per day/hour?

 

We set the expectation that electricity is separately billed and reported daily and they know they will pay an additional $1-15 USD per day based on their consumption.

This is normal in our market because electricity is very expensive, about 2-3 times more expensive than most US markets.

 

We track their time of entry and log their consumption from the moment they enter to the moment they leave and update them on their daily and total consumption every morning (we don't message them, but give them access to the report).

We have date BEFORE we implemented this, and AFTER.

 

You can imagine before the data shows high usage every single day from the moment they enter.

 

After shows conscientious usage of electricity.

 

We also offer them their last DAY (from midnight to 11am checkout) for free if they pay before check out which decreases the likelihood that we have to chase them for payment.

 

What's funny is that they are already in the habit of being mindful, so we have only seen 1 reservation out of hundreds where they went ahead and just went full blast on AC right after midnight.

 

Works very well and people are very mindful when they know they will have to pay for it.

 

Again this would only work if you:

 

  1. Can communicate the expectation before, during, and after reservation.
  2. Have a way to measure and communicate daily consumption.
Mike
Nusrat12
Level 1
North Kellyville, Australia

No, I don’t and will have to install a separate meter to calculate the consumption by the guest

Zheng49
Level 10
Toronto, Canada

It doesn't really make sense to me why you would be worried about guests turning on the heat all the time, as it should be set to a set temperature and the heater would turn on/off automatically as needed. 

 

We have the temperature controls in the dining area where all guests could potentially change, and no one has touched the temperature controls that I know of.

 

That said, we do maintain a very stable 21-24C throughout the seasons. So heating and air conditioning is actually always on to maintain said temperature. 

 

Central heating would only guarantee that the living room/kitchen area is 21-24C, so if they open the window in their room, then their room would deviate from said temperature. But it's their choice in the end. 

 

I think heating/air conditioning is just part of the cost of doing business. We also live in the same house so it would be on anyways. 

 

If heating is getting to be too expensive, you could always adjust the price of the room(s) to compensate, but I would still maintain a good temperature. It's not really worth it to get a potential negative review to save a couple of bucks. 

Nusrat12
Level 1
North Kellyville, Australia

I agree 

Karen114
Level 10
Bolton, MA

@Nusrat12 I feel your pain. I am in Mexico and Florida where AC abuse is off the charts. I have found a solution in Florida where we use the Nest thermostat and can control how low the AC can go. Plus it goes into Eco mode when they leave for the day rather than the unit working all day to cool and empty space. 
Are there any  WiFi thermostats in your area? 
I can’t find any for my Mexico property. Although many hosts do charge guests separately for electricity usage. I don’t do this as I would have to get a meter reading before and after the stay and don’t have that bandwidth. 
For me in Florida it’s not so much the cost of the electric, it’s the wear and tear on the AC System. Once you’ve replaced a couple of 8k$ AC systems due to abuse you smarten up. 

Karen

Not worried about that, since I signed up for an Air Conditioner maintenance plan where I pay a monthly fee (fairly low, and needed since my A/C unit is old but still good) and repairs are free with same day service...

 

Not sure how abuse happens anyways, if an AC system can't hold/keep a temperature you want, it's time to replace/repair it anyways since it would mean it's faulty. 

@Zheng49  I am in Southwest Florida where the heat index has been 105 and humidity 95%.  I had a brand new 2 ton AC installed last month for an 850 sq foot space and it struggles to get the temp to 70 during these times.  

 

Before having the Nest thermostats in Florida, I replaced 2 AC systems becuase the guests would have the sliders open and the AC set to 65.  I guess they were trying to cool the balcony 😂  

 

They do the same in Mexico as my housekeeper will come in and the floors are soaked and that's from running the AC with sliders open.  

Karen
Elaine701
Level 10
Balearic Islands, Spain

@Nusrat12 

 

First, as others have mentioned, don't give guests control of the thermostat. Get something you can control from your smartphone. It's cheap, and will enable you to have control. Guests aren't thinking about that when on holiday. Just don't give them the ability to mess with it.

 

Another smart thing to do is to install supplemental solar power. It's getting really inexpensive now, especially if you have someone - a friend or whatever - who understands electrical installations (it's not complicated), rather than hire a professional who will charge the max they can get. My husband did ours, but he's an engineer. Nonetheless we spent less than 1/3 of what the pros quoted and got much more energy for that money. 

 

You can buy reliable high capacity hybrid charger/inverters for a few hundred bucks nowadays that support grid energy as well. Panels are cheap nowadays too. It's batteries that are expensive - but you don't necessarily need them if you have grid power, although you can always add them when you have the funds available, which will keep you powered when the sun isn't shining, without using expensive grid power.

 

Most of the new systems are modular, so you can start small, easily add on when funds are available. We started small and added on every year  it was easy. Now everything is powered by the sun. A/C, heating, pool, the whole house. No electrical bills at all. And in the 40 degree heat of summer and in 5c winter nights, the house comfortably stays at 22-23c. Guests are very happy with that. Yet they have no thermostat available for them to screw it up.

 

In any case, you'll start to see a reduction in electricity bills immediately, and as you scale up, the bills will be less and less, until you scale up to a point where they go to zero. Totally solar powered. 

 

Good luck with everything.

 

Snehal1
Level 2
Vadodara, India

In India, We have this Electricity consumption issue in Summer.  Guest Keep the Air conditioner ON For 24 hours.  Even if they are not in House.  I dont have any Solution to such non required consumption of Electricity.  Winters are not that Cold in India and Heating is not required. Sorry I am not able to give the Solution to the issue.

Gloria53
Level 2
Carlsbad, CA

My short term rental is in Maui. The air conditioning bill can go to $500 for a few months. I have to consider adding the cost into my base rate. However, I DO make mention of consumer consumption on the small island, in my guidebook that I send to my guests a few weeks prior to arrival. Since then, my bills are more manageable and guests have been responsible to turn the air conditioning off when they leave the condo. There are systems that shut down automatically when the sliding doors or windows are opened. I do not have that but worth looking into! Good luck!

Tariq52
Level 4
Squamish, Canada

In my opinion, giving the guests control of the temperature is important, as everyone has a different comfort level - and you want your guests to be comfortable! 

 

What I do is employ technology to optimize the heating schedules and set the appropriate temperature throughout the day. I don't give the onus on the guest to turn things off. Even my lights are controlled by smart technology that turn on and off at a certain time. Basically the guest doesn't have to control anything. But if they wish to do so, they still have that ability.

 

For the heat, I use Mysa smart thermostats which control the temperature setting throughout the day. The default temperature in the winter is 21 degrees Celsius and it resets every 2 hours or so. The guest can still change the temperature manually, but it will eventually reset to the default, which helps cut down on costs. The thermostats also lower the temperature at night when the guests are typically sleeping (which is actually better for most people). So far, I haven't noticed anyone changing the temperature manually. 

For my lights, I use Phillips Hue smart bulbs which have replaced at least 90% of the lights in the home. They turn on around sunset and gradually turn off by 11pm. I give the guests instructions on how to use them and generally have had no issues. I also have a smart lock that locks after 60 seconds.

 

It does take some time and cost setting these things up initially, but in the long run it's probably the most efficient way to cut down on power and heat consumption. I can monitor everything on my phone and receive alerts for the heat setting if it gets too high. Everything can be controlled by my phone which is a huge plus.

 

Depending on the size of your place, setting up these automations could get quite involved. So, I suggest starting with the main thermostats and lights. I have about 5 electric baseboard heaters in my Airbnb. What I did was set up 2 smart thermostats and disabled the other ones. I also just removed any lights which were not necessary.

 

When I return home after a guest's stay, the only things that might still be on are the hood fan light and the bathroom fan. Everything else resets!

 

Shaun571
Level 2
Atlanta, GA

Hi - We use a Nest thermostat to try to control it through temp scheduling that adjusts automatically. For longterm guest, we give them a maximum amount that the electric bill can hit before we will charge them more. We have found that this made them more conscious of usage. Hope this helps!

Bhumika
Community Manager
Community Manager
Toronto, Canada

Hi @Nusrat12 , You've received amazing tips from Hosts for your question. Have you had a chance to review these suggestions and consider what works the best for you? 

 

How are you thinking of managing electricity consumption by guests, especially during winters?

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