What are you hosts doing about increasing heating costs and fuel bills?

Alexandra199
Level 10
Gretton, United Kingdom

What are you hosts doing about increasing heating costs and fuel bills?

Hi all you lovely hosts, I wanted to open a conversation about the costs of heating and other fuel costs associated with hosting now that energy bills in the UK are rising exponentially. My bills personally are almost doubling, I suspect the situation is similar around the world. I know some guests will feel that when they go away they shouldn't need to worry about heating costs, but in the current situation surely they cant just ignore the fact that the costs are rocketing for everyone, including hosts. There is, of course, also the climate change issue which no one can ignore.

 

Does anyone have any tips about how, as hosts, we can ask our guests to be thoughtful about these costs?

 

What do you guys do to mitigate against thoughtless guests?

 

How should hosts deal with guests who it appears are taking advantage of the heating?

 

Would you mention in reviews guests who are thoughtless about the heating? How would you word this? (I know there are some hosts on here who word reviews brilliantly!)

 

Anyone got some thoughts on this?

 

 

38 Replies 38
Robbie54
Level 10
North Runcton, United Kingdom

@Alexandra199 since I started hosting over 6 years ago I placed a little piece of wording directly above the thermostat in the lodge that says "Please remember to turn down the thermostat when leaving the lodge. Thank you." It's not much but a little reminder does sometimes help. You could try something similar, noting environmental issues instead of the cost as guests probably wouldn't care how much you're paying as it's not their problem.

Personally I find that some guests guests either don't care and turn it up full blast then leave it, whether they're in or not, or some use it sparingly. It's not a cold property and well insulated, but I do get the feeling that some guests are of the opinion that as they paid for the property they can do what they want with the heating, regardless of the current fuel and climate emergency we're going through. The only thing I recently done to combat this is I put my prices up, not much but enough to help, and it doesn't seem to have affected my bookings. I'm sure a lot of hosts have dont the same. 

Btw, since day 1 the central heating goes on at 6am and off at 11.30pm, which is normal in the UK. Although I do mention in the info book that if they want the times changed let me know and I'll do it, in 6 years no one has asked and no one has complained about the heating. 

 

 

Bob1240
Level 2
Edinburgh, United Kingdom

A very real issue. I just tried to start a discussion but the system wouldn’t let me.

Like everyone else my heating costs are rocketing. My last guests who apparently said they ‘feel the cold’ raised the thermostat so that the cottage was ‘like an oven’ according to my neighbour.

 

I think Airbnb should get involved and start a campaign and, although I try to avoid giving adverse reviews, I think misuse of resources should be mentioned.

 

I suspect there are many guests for whom this is not yet an issue or who are just plain selfish.

Amanda660
Level 10
Auchenblae, United Kingdom

We had a group of 6 Chinese guests in last week as part of a Scottish Road Trip.  Really lovely group (they were studying in London so used to living in the UK) loved the house, very pleasant and enthusiastic.  

Towards the end of the wee house tour I mentioned recent  fuel prices hikes and asked them to be mindful and to ensure that when the heating was on the windows be kept closed and also when they went out.

I live just across the road and the whole weekend they were out and about until 9pm with the windows open full tilt even though it was only 4° and pouring rain outside.  

 

When my housekeeper and I went in to clean the place was like a sauna with all radiators on full and every window open with the blinds down.  

I can only guess that they are in student accommodation that includes bills.  

Huma0
Level 10
London, United Kingdom


@Amanda660 wrote:



I can only guess that they are in student accommodation that includes bills.  


This is exactly it. I've even noticed it with older people, not just youngsters. When bills are 'included' or fixed in some way, people just don't care. I've got middle aged friends who live in flats where the heating is included and they behave the same way!

 

I used to live in an apartment complex that had a communal heating and hot water system. There was no way to control when the heating came on and off. It was just on all the time from October to April and then off for the rest of the year. There was a dial of some sort in the flat, but that didn't do anything. So, I had to resort to turning individual radiators off so that the place wouldn't overheat.

 

The thing is, the bill for this, which was charged upfront every six months, was expensive. Because people thought that there was no link between their usage and the cost, they would leave their windows open all day during the winter. Obviously, because a lot of people were doing this, it was increasing the cost for everyone, including themselves, but they didn't see it that way as they didn't get a bill telling them they had used X amount of gas and therefore were being charged accordingly. People are so stupid sometimes even with their own money!

Amanda660
Level 10
Auchenblae, United Kingdom

A friend of mine has some student HMOs..  A few years ago she included bills but changed the set up to include up to a set amount then the tenants would be charged any excess.  

 

She couldn’t believe how much they suddenly focussed on wasted energy when they were billed for it and watched the bills plummet. 

Huma0
Level 10
London, United Kingdom

@Amanda660 

 

Now, if there was only a way to implement that in my homestay, but sadly, I can't see how.

 

Before I used Airbnb, I used to rent my rooms to long term lodgers. The bills were split equality between the four people in the house (including myself). Of course, that didn't mean everyone made an effort, but overall it kept things in check. It also meant that it wasn't just me nagging when someone was wasteful. Other housemates would not be happy when they saw someone in the house wasting their money! 

 

Sadly, that's what it comes down to. People are happy to waste other people's money. You have to hit them where it hurts, i.e. their own wallet. Look what happened when they introduced a mandatory charge for shopping bags in supermarkets etc. Suddenly, almost everyone was taking bags with them to the shops. This suddenly became normal overnight. The change in behaviour was dramatic.

Alexandra199
Level 10
Gretton, United Kingdom

Oh Amanda this is so annoying. Did you feel like putting something in their review? 

Amanda660
Level 10
Auchenblae, United Kingdom

I really did think of commenting something along the lines of ‘future host concerned about excessive heating costs may need  to discuss radiators on versus windows open’ but I didn’t.  

Alexandra199
Level 10
Gretton, United Kingdom

Its very difficult to know how best to mention it in a review. I had guests recently who as soon as they came home they whacked the thermostat up to 24 degrees constantly, plus they used a ton of wood in the log burners. It really infuriated me! no-one needs to be that hot. Put a **bleep** jumper on for goodness sake. I really wanted to say something in my review but couldn't work out how to word it.

 

I know some hosts on here have a great way of indicating an issue without coming across as unfair eg. suggesting guests might prefer hotel accommodation (treated the place and like a hotel leaving it a mess) or the guest made the most of the accommodation on offer (used every bed in the place even though there was only two people, and took all the toilet rolls with them) I wonder if there is a tactful way of telling other hosts that the guest is an 'energy bandit' (phrase stolen from another host)

Huma0
Level 10
London, United Kingdom

@Alexandra199 @Amanda660 

 

It's a tricky one, but I would just be honest about it:

 

"X and her friends were a really lovely group. They seemed to love the house and were very pleasant and enthusiastic (or whatever other positives you want to include). The only problem was that they turned the heating on full blast and left the windows open all day every day during the middle of winter. Although I did specifically ask them not to do this during the house tour, future host may wish to emphasise this point more strongly. Other than that, they were really delightful and I'd be happy to welcome them back."

 

Or, if you really don't want to be specific in the review, you could just tell them this in the private feedback. Try to stress that we are in an energy crisis and that type of wastage is just not acceptable to most hosts. Because they were so nice, you did not want to mention it to then in the public review but they should really not do this in future as the host might not be so generous!

Mike-And-Jane0
Level 10
England, United Kingdom

@Shaun69 what a great idea. My latest panic is whether or not we will be able to get fuel at all once our current supply is exhausted. It turns out that a lot of biomass comes (came) from Russia and unlike gas this seems to be sanctioned now. If we have to move to electric heating our costs would rise ten fold which would pretty much put us out of business even ignoring the cost of buying a load of portable electric heaters.

Shaun69
Level 10
Hurstpierpoint, United Kingdom

@Mike-And-Jane0  just to put numbers on what is happening at present, we have just signed a new contract with Calor Gas for three years at 50 pence a litre! Believe it or not that is less than I was paying for the last two years! I do not pretend to understand what is going on in the LPG wholesale market at present but if you can avoid natural gas it seems options are still affordable!

Be Happy Shaun

Mike-And-Jane0
Level 10
England, United Kingdom

@Shaun69 If my conversion is correct that is about 7p/kWhr or probably 8p after boiler efficiency is taken into account.

Shaun69
Level 10
Hurstpierpoint, United Kingdom

@Mike-And-Jane0  Sorry but I cannot confirm your numbers, all I know is when costs go down it is a good thing regarding our profitability! We use a combi boiler in each lodge which is fuelled by LPG from a large central tank. Each boiler provides hot water to one shower, one wash hand basin and one kitchen sink, also it provides hot water to three radiators for central heating.

Be Happy Shaun

Mike-And-Jane0
Level 10
England, United Kingdom

@Shaun69 So why are your electric bills so high? Do you have LED lightbulbs throughout? If not they would be a worthwhile investment.

Shaun69
Level 10
Hurstpierpoint, United Kingdom

Hi Alex,

Just like you our electric costs have increased massively, average monthly bill is normally about £300 for the four lodges but it has increased to £460. I have taken the unusual step to show our guests the last two bills and ask for their help to control our electricity usage. 95% of guests have reacted positively and are helping by turning unused items off. This honest and open approach seems to be working but I am sure we will come across the exception to the rule before long!

Be Happy Shaun

Jana27
Level 2
Anchorage, AK

I host in Anchorage, Alaska. My heating bills are in the $250-300 range for winter months. Guests from hot climates, southern states are the most difficult to "educate" about heat. I have in my house rules: to not leave windows and doors open in winter; to not use the space heater and have the window open at the same time; to not sit on the back porch with the door open to stay warm outside... seriously. I have a wood stove upstairs and will keep it going for guests upon request (I am in a basement apartment in my house). I could put a lockbox over the thermostat, but I have not done that yet. I have mostly gone to monthly renters in winter because I cannot get the income from airbnb winter rates to make it worth it. My earning months are May to September primarily, when it usually does not snow :).

Emilia42
Level 10
Orono, ME

My heating bills are in the $250-300 range for winter months.

 

That is pretty good. Sounds like you're already doing a good job at conserving!

Alexandra199
Level 10
Gretton, United Kingdom

I think 23 is excessive but then you if you are living in a hot country you will naturally be used to warmer temperatures. I should add that my cottages all have log burners too so they can be used in the winter to add to the heat. 

 

I honestly hope this huge increase in energy prices is going to make people think twice about what they use. Heating UK houses to 23 plus degrees is going to be a thing of the past and with the climate crisis I really don't think that is a bad thing. Telling people to reduce their energy use for the planet falls on deaf ears, start charging them and suddenly they make changes. 

Huma0
Level 10
London, United Kingdom

@Alexandra199 

 

Personally, I agree that 23 is excessive. I used to work for the Energy Saving Trust and we were always trying to get people to set their thermostats to a maximum of 21. For a very well insulated home, or a small, modern apartment, I think you could easily go lower, but then I am British. We don't think it's weird to wear a jumper indoors.

 

It's not just people from hot countries that have an issue with this (although there are those, e.g. the guy from Florida who demanded I turn the heating on in June because it was raining) but I have found that gets from cooler climates can also have very different views on this.

 

Almost every German guest I have hosted outside of the summer months has made a fuss about the heating. It's pretty common for them to ask about it as soon as they arrive, even if it's 20 degrees outside. They want it on 'just in case'. Having friends in Germany, I also noticed that it's not unusual there for people to have the heating on 24/7 during October and leave all their windows open at the same time. I have no idea how they can pay their bills. Maybe these price hikes will change this behaviour?

 

One Russian guest was very surprised that I didn't have the heating on in September (it was pretty warm outside). She told me that in Moscow, everyone automatically put the heating on full on 1st September regardless of the weather. They didn't mind if it got very hot inside because they liked to work around barefoot and in t-shirts. More recently, I had a Polish guest who complained incessantly about being freezing even though everyone else seemed fine and refused to let me check the radiators in his room because he said they were already hot. He also refused extra bedding. I am not sure what he wanted me to do. This surprised me as my Polish friends here in London seem very frugal with the heating.

 

These were all young people who like to think of themselves as more environmentally aware than previous generations (except for the Russian girl who told me bluntly that in Russia people don't care about that stuff), but it's simply not true. Most of my guests are young and many, many of them only care about the environment if it's no inconvenience to them and doesn't interfere with their lifestyle. 

 

I am not joking when I say that not a single one of my recent or current guests seem aware that there is an energy crisis and these sorts of price hikes going on, and it's all over the newspapers. They look surprised if I mention it, or just blank. I think you are right that it comes down to cost. Once these young folk are paying their own bills, they will think twice. That doesn't help their hosts in the meantime though!

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