My plan for managing temperature, guest expectations, and energy consumption.

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Gregory639
Level 2
Tracy, CA

My plan for managing temperature, guest expectations, and energy consumption.

Hello community. I am a new shared housing host in Tracy, California. As in many places these days, energy is expensive. We have done many things to reduce our energy consumption; LED lighting, automated lighting controls, shades, etc. We also have solar, but that doesn't make energy free.

 

Our home has central heating/cooling with two Ecobee thermostats, upstairs and downstairs. The rental space is a two room suite with private bathroom on the lower level of the house. The downstairs thermostat is not inside the rental space.

 

Anyway, people being people, everyone has a different temperature at which they feel comfortable. Some people's level of comfort is informed by the price or energy. Some by their personal impact on the planet. Some by the vacation memories. Some have never born the burden of paying an energy bill.

 

When we set up, we provided a smart space heater, which we can monitor. We have had an issue our guest using the space heater to warm the space while leaving the window open for fresh air. The guest was also leaving the heater on "high" (constant heat), as well as leaving it on all night. So we came up with this plan and would very much appreciate your feedback, as we will not be able to implement this for another few months.

 

First, we will remove the space heater. The Ecobee thermostats can be password protected to prevent the guest from making any adjustments. They can also be adjusted remotely, via phone app. We plan to install a thermometer in the rented space that we will use as a measure of energy consumption. We found one that is battery powered, will sample the temperature every 30 minutes, and will store that data for a year. It is retrievable via phone app. No wires. It also clearly displays the temperature.

 

We will provide a certain temperature on a certain schedule, winter and summer, as part of the rental. This will be declared in the listing, in the house manual, and clearly stated in the initial contact email with the guest. Any changes to the temperature of the rental space will come at a fee. We will produce a fee schedule, $X per degree of change, per day.

 

All requests for temperature changes must be communicated via Airbnb messaging before 9am of the day the change is to occur. These extra energy fees will be collected through the Airbnb Resolution Center.

 

Do you see any potential issues with my plan?

 

Thank you for your time and attention.

1 Best Answer
Bob297
Level 10
Bilthoven, Netherlands

@Gregory639 @Helen3 

While @Gregory639's approach may seem intricate, I concur with his line of reasoning. I also lean towards rewarding guests who are mindful of energy consumption.


I currently rent three villas in the Caribbean where electricity comes at a steep price.
The dilemma lies in the varying energy usage patterns among guests. Some keep the AC running throughout the day, incurring a daily energy cost of US$30. On the other hand, those who use the AC sparingly spend only US$8 per day. The responsibility of settling the bill ultimately falls on someone.


If I were to raise the average rent, it would mean that energy-conscious guests end up subsidizing those who indulge in constant AC usage. Furthermore, if electricity (and water) were included without limits in the rent, most individuals wouldn't be mindful of their usage, leading to a need for further rent hikes.


To address this issue, I request a deposit of US$250 every two weeks, using it to cover the costs of water and electricity. I communicate this policy in my advertisements, rules, and in messages sent to guests immediately after their reservation.


Since 2018, I have encountered two guests who initially questioned this method. However, after providing clarification, they agreed that it is the most sensible approach.

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14 Replies 14
Helen3
Level 10
Bristol, United Kingdom

I wouldn't rent somewhere that did this. You're making it too complicated and restrictive for the guest. How will people know their movements for the day at 9 am and whether they are likely to need extra heating? 

 

Far better to adjust your day rate to include extra utilities @Gregory639 

Bob297
Level 10
Bilthoven, Netherlands

@Gregory639 @Helen3 

While @Gregory639's approach may seem intricate, I concur with his line of reasoning. I also lean towards rewarding guests who are mindful of energy consumption.


I currently rent three villas in the Caribbean where electricity comes at a steep price.
The dilemma lies in the varying energy usage patterns among guests. Some keep the AC running throughout the day, incurring a daily energy cost of US$30. On the other hand, those who use the AC sparingly spend only US$8 per day. The responsibility of settling the bill ultimately falls on someone.


If I were to raise the average rent, it would mean that energy-conscious guests end up subsidizing those who indulge in constant AC usage. Furthermore, if electricity (and water) were included without limits in the rent, most individuals wouldn't be mindful of their usage, leading to a need for further rent hikes.


To address this issue, I request a deposit of US$250 every two weeks, using it to cover the costs of water and electricity. I communicate this policy in my advertisements, rules, and in messages sent to guests immediately after their reservation.


Since 2018, I have encountered two guests who initially questioned this method. However, after providing clarification, they agreed that it is the most sensible approach.

@Bob297 You make an important point that I neglected to mention; The cost variance for energy consumption from one guest to another. Because this is a shared housing situation, we are not just heating/cooling the rented space. The cost difference between keeping the house at 78F (25.5C) versus 73F (22.7C) could be as much as $300 or more each month at the extremes of summer here, when it will be well over 100F (37.7C). 

 

Some guests will tolerate 80F (26.6C) if they know they will save money, while others will complain that 75F (23.8C) is too warm. 

 

I like your method of collecting the deposit up front. That seems like it would be easier and would feel more like a reward than my method, which might feel more like a penalty. Do you use the Resolution Center to collect/refund that deposit?

 

Thank you for your feedback.

 

 

Bob297
Level 10
Bilthoven, Netherlands

@Gregory639 
I collect it cash on arrival and mention it in the advertisement.
For guests from the euro area, it's much simpler. We are used to banktransfers.
They pay me via bank transfer. Bank-to-bank in the Netherlands takes one second. Other countries might take (part of)a day.

@Helen3 Thank you, Helen.  I should have explained my 9am deadline reasoning. During the summer months, if I do not begin cooling the house by 9am, it will heat up so fast that my HVAC system can do no better than to maintain the indoor temperature. Once it gets to 78F (25.5) inside, it cannot reduce the inside temperature while the outside temperature is soaring past 100F (37.7C). 

 

Thank you for your feedback.

Mike-And-Jane0
Level 10
England, United Kingdom

@Gregory639 We say in our listing that the temp will be between 21 and 22 degrees C and come on at certain times. We also say that we will adjust to suit people if they ask. We did this after guests set the heating at 28 degrees 24 hrs/day.

We have had zero complaints and many good reviews but we have also adjusted the temperature up to 23.5 degrees for folks who feel the cold more than others.

I would do as @Helen3 says and adjust your rates to account for the few times people will want the space heated more rather than penalise those who need a higher temperature.

@Mike-And-Jane0 I think if we were renting to short term renters, this might make sense. Abusive energy consumers are not too common, fortunately. However, in our case, we are marketing toward longer term guests, 30-180 days. I now realize how important this point is and should have included it in my description above.

You can see how cost averaging doesn't really work when you might have a guest demanding additional energy consumption over such a long period of time.

 

Thank you very much for your feedback.

@Gregory639 Having long term renters makes a huge difference. One bad apple would never average out across the rest.

John5097
Level 10
Charleston, SC

@Gregory639 

The Nest thermostat is very popular with Airbnb host. Among other things it allows you to set a minimum and maximum temp that your guest can set for the temp in both AC and heat mode.  

You didn't mention if you have a heat pump but would think you do? 

Allowing say between 69-74 shouldn't use much more energy. I would encourage guest to just set it at one temp and leave it as adjusting it will likely use more energy. Lets say its too hot when they arrive they will turn it down as far as it can go and leave for the day. Some people from cooler regions may think opening windows will help cool it down, so its best to have it a little cooler in the summer when they check in or little warmer in the winter, so they don't mess with it.

 

I have a one page quick guide with like five simply one line instructions. 

A lot of guest don't read anything. 

Just a suggestion. I've only been hosting 4 years with 400 stays. Do what makes you happy. 

Your thermostat may allow you to set a temp range guest can set. If not the Nest is very easy to install. They have step by step instructions and a good help support call center. Just follow the instructions. 

 

My listing is very energy efficient. You can also add insulation, new windows, etc. 

 

But for some listings such as historic houses it would be a good idea to keep a set temp and make it clear in the listing.

PS.. I have in my house rules to keep doors and windows closed when heat ac is on. 

Also a space heater consumes a lot of energy. Just allowing guest to use a temp range with the thermostat if it has a heat pump should be more efficient and cost effective as heat pumps use far less energy than radiant heaters. 

95% of my guest keep the temp within 2 degrees of what I leave it at which is perfectly acceptable. 

This would be for an energy efficient house and appliances. If it's something else or just not configured properly it will likely be ongoing issue. 


@John5097  Sound sleek you have a great setup. My setup is a bit different. No heat pump. The rented space is a suite on the ground floor of our home and temperature is not controlled separately from the rest of the downstairs. The thermostat is not in the rented space. So it is a somewhat energy inefficient setup that I am trying to manage. 

Your points are all well taken though.

Thanks so much.

@Gregory639 

Ok gotcha. Yes I was just trying to help and see you be successful as I have a good idea guest prefer. The heat/Ac can get complicated with a lot of options. I have a guest apartment attached to my house. It has a shared HVAC a heat pump. It works really well. I have damper that controls the air flow to the apartment. For the first year I also just let guest reach out if they wanted the temp adjusted. It was very comfortable so not many even reached out. In the summer I kept it quite a bit cooler than I used to without guest. I got all 5 star reviews. I also installed the Nest which has some nice features and I could adjust it remotely. 

Then I added a mini split ductless heat pump to the guest apartment so that guest can just adjust it themselves. I keep the air flow a little less from the main HVAC to give them some rage to adjust. In the wither it will be 66 degrees without the mini split and they can turn it up to 74 as I have a programmed remote, and in summer can turn it down to 68. Those are really efficient. My utility bill hasn't changed.

My total utility price is on average about $160 a month for electric and heat for both the main house and guest apartment. I have several exhaust fans on the roof to extract heat from the attic area, 3 in total and each about 1200 cfm for long ranch house. This really sucks a lot of heat out of the attic. If not the HVAC would have to work a lot harder. Also added some insulation on top of ceiling joist.

There are a lot of options. Can get dual zones, etc. Even the mini splits have a lot of options that you could consider when it comes time to replace your existing unit. 

See how it goes. If you can section off the basement area so it's more private that may be a lot more popular. Even a one bedroom, set up a little kitchenette nook, private entrance and no shared space. That's what I have and don't even see most of my guest.

There are a lot of options though. I would just communicate what the room temp is in the listing and first message. I mentioned it can be adjusted a few degrees in mine. We also have extreme humidity here so below 70 isn't an option.

I would suggest it being comfortable in their bedrooms. Might be a good idea to see if an HVAC company can balance out the ductwork. As mentioned I had them add the damper to mine. Ceiling fans are also an option. I have those as well, and use them myself. 

Just see how it goes. A lot really depends on the area. If they have their own private entrance and have access to kitchen, that could be really popular. I'll bet you won't see them much though.

I wouldn't mention adding any kind of fee. Guest will read this and think the worst that the host may hit them with a bunch of extra fees which could drive away a lot of bookings. 


Your setup sounds impressive with its sleek design. Mine, however, differs a bit—no heat pump involved. The space I've rented is a ground-floor suite within our home, and unfortunately, the temperature isn't regulated independently from the rest of the downstairs. The thermostat is also located outside the rented space, making it a somewhat energy-inefficient arrangement that I'm working to navigate.

Nonetheless, I appreciate and acknowledge all the insights you've shared.

Thank you.

Mila1926
Level 2
Coral Springs, FL

I wouldn’t stay there. I’m sorry this is just ridiculous. I would consider this being a business expense. I have stayed in many airbnbs and what erks me the most is when I don’t have full control of the temperature I want to set. I’ve stayed in a place before where I had to text the host to change the temperature, absolutely ruins your entire experience. Also, people travel from all over, they might want to get in, go out to eat and not realize that the temperature is uncomfortable until after 9pm. What do they do then? Just deal with it all night? What if they have a child? And to charge them for degree used? I’m sorry that’s just so weird. It’s like when a host tries to charge you if you accidentally got their towel dirty. Just penny pinching and relying on customer to cover the cost. I understand times are tough for everyone, but this kind of stuff will cause your business to fail. It’s a business, treat it as such. Imagine how you would want to be treated if you are spending money to stay somewhere