United Kingdom Level 2
Wherever you go, people are feeling the effect of the energy crisis and thinking of ways to be more economical. Hospitality is, of course, no exception. Whether you’re thinking about sustainability, smart meters, your amenities or your overall cost calculation, many of you have shared some ideas on how to make your Hosting business work despite rising utility costs, across the CC. I hope we can encourage and collect more here!
Have you made any changes to your listing, listing or Hosting style to be more economically viable?
I hope we can all share some tips and tricks that will benefit all of our wonderful Host community, as we adapt to our ever changing world.
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This is a useful topic Sybe. As a guest I have just returned from a two week stay in Spain. My host listing under Things to Note said bookings over three weeks attract an extra energy charge, but under the House Rules it said this charge applies for two week stays only. This is obviously confusing.
My host then texted me the night before my trip to confirm I would be charged extra for two weeks and I had to pay €100 cash on arrival as a “deposit” for electricity charges and that I would be refunded the difference if my final electrical bill was less than this, but would pay more if it exceeded €100.
I asked for an estimate of how much my electricity might cost me but my host said she did not know, nor could she give me a cost per unit of kWH and I had to wait until the end of my trip to get a bill from her supplier. My host sent me a screenshot of her suppliers bill, it was €80, quite a lot considering we never used the air con, heating, washing machine and only a few hours tv. My host then sent me €20 refund via Resolution Centre although I did ask for my €100 cash to be returned and for the €80 charge to be invoiced to me via the Airbnb payments platform. This request was refused. Although I have had cordial conversation with my host on these matters she feels that her policy is good and I am just being difficult?
I think the above situation is at best very confusing. The price I paid for my booking was very clear and included a two week price discount but in the end this was not true as I paid extra for electricity! All I want as a guest is clarity and I am very happy paying for extras if they are clear and up front.
So, a few final points: Can a host charge extra for two weeks when another part of her listing says this only applies after three weeks? Do Airbnb rules allow a host to charge these extras in cash and outside their payment platform? Do you agree that guests ought to be given an idea of likely energy costs and price per kWh in advance and not be presented with an unknown bill at the end (I would not eat at a restaurant that had no prices!)?
@Nigel247 There's always the risk that ABB will put on a surcharge on extra fees, I don't know when they do and don't do it, but the reason to pay cash is to avoid that extra 14~17% fee, that's probably why she did it that way?
This whole situation is new for everyone, but I don't understand why she doesn't know the kw/h fee, that's on her bill, and she should know the daily approximate fee, even based on autumn pricing. This is all on the bill. I agree with you that you should be given an estimate, but this is new territory for everyone. I just wouldn't book with someone who had this set up, and frankly they should just increase their prices instead. Our cottage is now $9/day in electricity fees (and we have firewood too), I put my prices up by $10. Easy.
@Nigel247 Very simply a host should not charge for anything that is not made very clear in the listing. They are also not allowed (unless they are a big corporate host) to take money outside of the Airbnb system.
Also, in England, it is not allowed to charge for heating unless the EPC of the property is supplied.
Finally I would never book a place with unknown energy costs.
Thanks Mike and Jane, very helpful. I wished I had spotted the other House Rule that mentioned the charge for two week stays but I did not otherwise I would have challenged it before I left and not paid the €100 cash, albeit I was given a receipt for this. It also strikes me that if a host just passes 100% of the energy costs onto their guests what incentive is there for them to invest in smart meters, more efficient appliances and other energy efficiencies? I suspect our biggest energy cost was having to boil a tin kettle on an antiquated ceramic hob! I appreciate there are abusive guests who waste energy but hosts need to do their bit too and having a rating for the energy efficiency of their apartment makes sense.
is there an easy way or email address at Airbnb that I can use to make a complaint? Thanks
@Nigel247 there is no easy way to complain to Airbnb. Their UK phone number is 02033181111 but if it was in the rules then the host hasn't done much wrong. You may well get them suspended but that feels a bit harsh.
Have you left them an honest review?
Many thanks again, no I have not submitted a review but will do and look to make it as balanced and reasonable as required so that other guests are aware. My host manages about 12 properties so perhaps that gives them additional charging rights but I agree that in my reading of the rules this does not extend to an energy charge which, after all is inescapable and not an optional charge…you cannot rent for two weeks without using electricity!
This is a very timely thread Sybe, and forgive this post for being so long but I hope my ideas here can be of help to hosts who are struggling with the burden of rising power costs.
Even here in Australia where we are far from the effects of the Ukraine conflict we have been told to expect an increase of 50% in our energy costs over the next two years. This will take the average quarterly electricity bill from $600 to almost $1,000.
I don't think we can depend on governments and energy providers to get this under control......greed is greed and as long as we keep paying, they will keep increasing our charges!
We have to get smart.
As much as we (in ourselves) might be energy conscious, STR guests are environmental vandals, whatever it is, their reaction is, "I am paying for it I will use it" ! They leave windows and doors open! They will come in at 1.00pm on a 10c afternoon and comment how lovely and warm the cottage is. They will put down their belongings and go out for the afternoon and evening.....but not before winding the a/c thermostat up to 30c so they will have a toasty environment to come back to.
I had a couple from Singapore stay here on a pleasant night, temperature around 18c and they slept all night with the thermostat wound down as far as it would go so they could experience what it is like to sleep with a doona (quilt) on the bed!
we have to be a bit smarter than they are!
Air conditioning, heating/cooling is the most power hungry and wasted facility an STR host can offer so, what can we do to take this wastage out of the guests hands?
1/.......If you don't provide it you are going to be caned by your guests, they want to feel comfortable!
2/......It's no good telling them to be energy efficient, they don't listen or care.
In my working life I was a mechanical services contractor which gives me an advantage, I have taken passive measure to stop guest power wastage.
Electricity is not a big deal for me because with the amount of rooftop solar I have in place, I produce my own power. On a good day I can produce around 56 Kws of electricity but every Kw a guest wastes is a Kw I can't export back to the mains and get paid something for, so, here are my solutions!
1/.......If a guest wants to be cooler than 66f (19c) in the summer time, or hotter than 75f (24c) in the winter time.......they won't do it at my expense.
I have supplied a generic a/c thermostat and I have doctored the a/c temp sensor so that it will only work within a 5c temperature range. It will not cool below 19c on cooling and it will not heat any further than 24c on heating......no guest has ever complained and running costs are acceptable in this temperature range. This control is sold universally and the whole thing cost me less than $30AU to supply and alter.
2/......When a guest enters a hotel/motel room their key activates the power to that room....and stops the power when they leave and take their key with them.
Using this logic I have created a sensor mechanism that control the power to the a/c by the guests movements.
The cottage key has a transmitter attached to it.....
it's embedded in that leather key pouch. When the guest walks out past the front gate a timed sensor on the gate deactivates the a/c power circuit and the air con turns off 10 minutes after they leave!
When they return through the gate the sensor re-actives the power and the air con starts running again.
Some guests have said they expected the cottage to be warmer but, once I explained what happens they accepted my reasoning and the cottage heats up or cools down in less than 10 minutes so it's no big deal.
3/......To control the radiant heat in the bathroom I have the strip heating connected to a pneumatic push timer switch which can be set from 1 -30 minutes. I have it set for 10 minutes. Each push of the button will give 10 minutes of heat.
The guest can have as many 10 minutes blocks of heat as they like.....at least I know, 10 minutes after they leave, the heating will turn off.
So, energy is not a big deal for me. For most of the year it costs me nothing and I would advise hosts to follow these examples if they find their power costs getting out of hand.
I haven't put my listing price up for 3 years but, I haven't felt the need to.
We are currently hosting a family who are leaving the apartment in the morning with the heating left on full. They returned this evening and opened a window. The boiler is oil-fired so very expensive to run. There is a sign in the flat asking guests to turn the thermostat right down when they go out. It's not even that cold here in the North West of England right now.
Thinking of getting a timer which can only be set to boost heating for an hour at a time. Any thoughts would be welcome.
@Simon3475 we have just purchased lockable covers for the thermostat/controller in our apartments. This means the only way to adjust the heating is by me over the internet. The last straw was a guest setting the heating to 30 degrees.....
We've been lucky so far. There's just a thermostat which controls everything. Turn it up and the heating comes on. Turn it down and it goes off. But leaving it on full and going out is just unforgivable.
The reason in noticed is we live next door and so can tell if the boiler is firing. And they'd asked for some logs for the fire (we don't supply them routinely) so I said I'd leave them a basket in the kitchen when they went out for the day, if they were on with me entering the flat. It was like a sauna. 😳
@Mariann4 Hola, here in Spain our government put the VAT for electricity at 5% (before was 21%).
But even with VAT 5% the electricity is overpriced and if we compare the Spanish wages which are very low and the price of electricity, there are many people who will not be able to heat this winter.
The kWh at this moment is between 0.42 euros and 0.65 Euro all depends on the Electrique company.
They are reducing the green tax up here with approx. 0,004 Euros. And then subsidising the price. Yet our prices are high, up to 0,6 Euros at worst, an hour or two up to 0,8 Euros. But for an hour this morning we were paid to use electricity. It's VERY volatile. My last invoice had me paying an average of 0,2 Euros after subsidies. Our normal price would be around 0,6 - 0,7 this time of year.
It's very hard on many people already. And winter is yet to come.
I honestly don't think most people will care for a rule about savings. Sorry for my lack of confidence for the human beings, but I'd say 9 out of 10 need to see it in their own wallet before they care.
@Sudsrung0 maybe, I have something in my house manual about being water wise. I'm not sure people who are paying to stay somewhere are going to be thrilled with the notion of putting on a scarf inside to "save energy", cos that actually means "reduce my bills". Likewise in your situation I imagine a lot of people just aren't prepared for the stifling humidity, and they actually need the a/c on 24/7 just to cope. You might find 25º at night acceptable, but many others won't! Likewise I have people who find 15º at night to be "freezing" whereas we think it's perfect.
I'm just looking at doing a listing of my home for summer/xmas (30+ days) and i'm wondering if i need to include a clause about energy use, because i can imagine people just running the a/c 24/7 here as well.
My energy bill for mid-winter just for one listing went up by almost $5/day, around an 80% increase. We have solar too but people seem to think solar is some holy grail. Why? It only works during the day and only provides a certain amount of energy, it's not unlimited free energy all day long. And of course, when you need it most - in winter at night - it's useless. And by the time we've actually paid it off, the tech will be out of date and then you have to start over again, PLUS I reckon in the future we'll all have to pay extra fees to safely dispose of the panels. We got solar panels on our other house in Qld, the bill went down the first quarter, and then bounced right back up and is now $200 more than last year, plus I am paying monthly payments to the solar company. Our govt is doing its best to outlaw wood burning fires in homes, but this is madness too, because rolling blackouts in winter (that's in all our futures if we continue to rely on solar/wind) will be an absolute disaster for the colder states.
What to do?
We are going to invest in buying 20t of wholesale firewood this summer, it's a big hit to take but the cost is 30% less and we should be able to sell some of it off to locals in small trailer loads. We might even be able to offset our own costs by up to 70% (with a little of our sweat equity of course). Our state govt is apparently offering farms "free" batteries for solar systems, I need to read the fine print on that but if so, that's going to help too, in a small way.
I think I will make a stylish sign for our small a/c unit that reads "this unit isn't designed to run all day long, please only operate when you are in the cottage, and never overnight". Unless we get a serious heatwave there is no need for a/c as it always drops below 20º at night, in summer. We don't have a/c in the other listings as we are cool climate, so that's one less thing to worry about. Winter is our bigger concern. We made it through ok this one, I can only 🙏🏻 that by winter 2023 these issues are behind us, but I doubt it.
Somehow, guests understand this issue in the context of their own home, but not when they are paying to stay elsewhere, so the only real solution you have is: put your prices up.
I guess that's the only way, but it is extremely difficult. On my house this winter the cost of electricity is up 500% compared to last winter. Per month it can vary between € 500 - € 1500 depending on temperature and weather the guests are aware or just simply don't care at all and open the windows with full heating on. When the total rent for a month is € 1 800 it sort of makes the equation quite tricky.
I'd love to set the rent to € 1 000 and charge for electricity separately. Then the ones who are aware will save money in the end. If they want to waste energy, please go ahead, but they will pay for it.