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I am charging $450 a night this summer in a beach community. The fall and winter rate is $375 Its my first summer doing vacation rentals. The daily temperature is a pretty consistant average 72 degrees. My 2 units never had air conditioning until June when I lost a 3 month booking because of lack of air conditioning... so I sprang for central air. My thinking was since its a temperate climate and its usually only 61 degrees out at night how often could the air come on even with the windows closed??
Well, I was wrong... with the windows closed the air will come on frequently even when its 72 OR 59 degrees out. The current guests turn the air to 62 on at 11 pm and keeps it on until 8 am when my programmed thermostat turns it to 78... thing is it was 60 degrees out all night! Although not consistantly on all night it looks to have been running about 5 hours in that period.
The thermostat is linked to the internet and I see how long and when the temp gets changed. So for instance, the outside temperature never went over 71 yesterday but I show 8 hours of air conditioning useage in the unit! I'm dreading the electric bill.
NOW... question is (after this guest leaves) do I put a limit on how far the temp can be lowered (which I can do), disable the air all together to encourage the windows again? Its a quiet neighborhood with a constant ocean breeze... so much so I put doorstops out to keep the doors from slamming. At $450 a night should I just grit my teeth and pay the bill? Charge a seperate $200 air-conditioning fee for summer so I don't have to worry about open windows with air on??
I think many of us face the same problems- guests turn the a/c up (or heat) then leave doors open, etc.
If you can manage the temp. from afar I see no problem with putting a maximum temp. range on your thermostat. You could buy a few small fans, in case someone needs more air.
I wouldn't charge an additional fee for airconditioning.
Many people select an air-conditioned house because of allergies, not just a desire for cooler temperatures, so opening windows may not be an option for them. I think if you advertise AC, you really need to bite the bullet and absorb the cost this year. Next year, take the increase in cost into account when you set your rates. When I meet my guests, I ask them to not run the individual room units when no one is in the room (we have a mini-split heat pump system that can cool down a room in 5 minutes) and most seem to comply. Still, my electric bills are always very high in the summer -- it's a cost of doing buisness.
I think your guests settng the thermostat to 62 is ridiculous. Is there any way you can limit the temperature to 72 or so?
I can limit the temperature, yes. At what point do I tell future guests that they can't turn the air down to say 68 at night when they are paying $450 a night? Seems like it would be an anger inducing limitation that might end up in reviews. I might disable the air all together starting in Sept or Oct and leave it off until May but put a limit of 68 or 69 on the air for the summer months.
Yes, setting the thermostat at 62 is ridiculous. The record shows that they started out at 11pm at 66 degrees at 3am they changed it to 64 and then at 5am it was changed to 62 where it stayed until 8am when the thermostat automatically changed it to 78. All during this time outside the temperature dipped as low as 60 degrees down from 63 at 11pm. These are a married couple that are probably 32 or so. They were supposed to have another couple join them but I'm not sure they arrived. I can't imagine 2 seperate couples wanting the inside temps to be in the low 60's!
No, actually it wouldn't help me at all. My thermostats are already motion sensitive and will shut down the heat and air if the unit is empty. My problem is worse when the unit has people physically in it and I have tankless water heaters in my units.
We have two signs in our condo-one by the thermostat and one by the slider. Both signs state that if the A/C is set lower than 74 or the A/C is run when the slider or other windows are open, the A/C unit will freeze, resulting in total use of A/C for several hours. We have three ceiling fans in an 800 sq unit, so we think not setting the thermostat lower than 74 is a reasonable request. I also send this notice when I email the check in & condo use instructions. Although I can't be sure anybody pays attention to the request, I hope they do.
Maybe signs would help you.
Susan's note about signs is one to seriously consider. I've foudn MOST guests really do want to respect the owner, and if you gently let them know that a particular feature has a considerable cost, they'll be careful in their use of it. Of course, there are also those who feel that it is their right if not responsibility to use and abuse every feature of a property simply because it is available. Thankfully, they've been a small minority for us.
We bought a number of 8X10 wooden frames (the type you can either hand or place on a pice of furniture), and put our printed signs in them: Directions on how and when to use the fireplace, reminders to use the griddle instead of the stove if making eggs or pancakes, guidelines on how to sleep BETWEEN the sheets instead of next to the comforters (that's one I'll never understand!). And yes, reasonable ranges for the A/C and heat, including a quick explanation that a lower temp does not cool faster.
I'd say you should not only limit the heat / cool ranges (min 68, max 78), but also explain that the A/C is primarily for humidity control, not temp reduction, since the area doesn't get that hot and cools off nicely every night. A gentle reminder of why they chose YOUR beach, with it's milder temps, instead of a place like Miami with it's unbearable heat helps boost their confidence and makes them feel better about themselves. Weird, but people always seem to take things better when they're wrapped in a compliment.
aloha moltened, sorry to hear about your experience. We too have a/c in condos, and some months the power bill is downright painful. While I don't have a solution for your problem, may I ask, which system are you using? we are looking at putting one in that can have limits. thanks!
The unit is called Nest. It is $299 but with the motion sensor shutting things off when no one is home, it is worth every penny.
You can put a limit on temps and remotely change temps or shut it off when you see windows open... from your lap top or phone. It logs 10 days worth of useage and schedules can be created to adjust temps through out the day. Lowes sells it and will even take it back in a couple months if you find its not for you. Check it out.
I have the Vera system installed, micasaverde.com, and use it to control A/C limits, lights, door lock, and more. Guests cannot set the A/C lower than 74 and if a door is left open it will shut off. I've not had a single complaint due to the 74 limitation and my place is in Florida.
I use the Schlage link system with a Trane Thermostat. We just had a brand new central a/c unit put in and the hvac people people wanted in set with a minimum 78 degrees. If your unit is running and it is cooler outside than inside, then the condenser can and will freeze up. I have signs posted above the thermostat with nighttime cooling tips (It's always 30 degrees cooler at night in our climate). I also have the stat set so people can't set it below 72. However, I am contemplating raising that to 74. I can also monitor usage on my phone or computer and can tell if the windows are open and the a/c is running. I post a warning that if windows are open or it's cooler outside than inside the unit will shut down.
When you say 'can and will freeze up' I assume you mean ice on the coils? These people in the unit now for instance had the unit on at 62 starting at just after midnight last night and it stayed on until 8am. When I checked it at 5am the outdoor temp was 57 degrees. Despite this the air chugged away all night... no freezing up.
I've just seached the web for some type of ajustable sensor that can be put on the central air unit outside to prevent it from being used when outdoor temps are dramatically lower than inside. That would solve the problem... I could advertise the place as eco friendly.
With my vigilance all day yesterday I was able to shutdown their air conditioning the second they left the unit (they had the nerve to walk out with the air set to 63!!). The log show that they still got away with 10 hours of air-conditioner useage during the day when the outdoor temp ranged from 60-72. They leave tomorrow and there's going to be some changes around here let me tell you.
That's the plan. It's not working yet, but what is working is the pool door alarms. They're one of a few options we having concerning pool safety in Florida. I now have them wired into my house alarm so they cannot be illegally unplugged or disconnected, as many guests have done in the past. If the guest leaves a pool access door or window open, the alarm will irritate them and encourage them to close it. Hey, it's not me, it's Florida law!
worked as a HVAC Tech for many, many years. The first answer is to limit your
temps in the house, both summer and winter. I would recommend running nothing
but Honeywell Commercial Thermostats. They have many features others don’t
have, mostly ones to save electricity, like smart fan feature to occasionally
run the fan to circulate the air in the house, to keep all rooms an equal temp.
I would disable the program feature on the system to keep your house the same
temp day and night also. Remember, your walls, floor, furnishings all get to
the room temp, then radiate that temp back into the room if you re-adjust the
thermostat. If you keep changing the temp of the room back and forth you have
to also change the temp of objects in the whole house, plus the actual
structure of the house. That costs money. So in short, give the guest a low of
68 degrees, and a high of 74 degrees. That is considered a comfortable window
of temps for anyone. If not add or remove clothing.
Another option all homeowners is to contact
your local HVAC Company and look into adding something called an economizer.
It’s nothing but a duct going outside on the air intake side of the HVAC unit,
with a filter and and an electronic damper. For example in the summer if the
outside temp gets cooler then the inside temp, it will shut off the air
conditioning compressors, and just use the outside air. If after 30 minutes the
inside temp doesn’t start to swing downward, then the air conditioner will fire
up. The same goes for the winter time…. Just the opposite for heating. It’s
cheap and very effective.
your condenser is icing up in any temp above 65 degrees, you need to have
someone look at your HVAC unit. It may be low on charge, fan undersized, filter
plugged, too many registers closed or something else wrong. A properly
operating HVAC system will go down to the freeze point of the refrigerant, and
for R-22 (most systems out there), that’s about 63-65 degrees of indoor temp,
and the colder the outdoor temp the better for efficiency.
my history, I was a HVAC tech for 2 of the largest banks in the US, and a
property manager covering over 1000 branches each. So we spent millions of
dollars in testing to find the cheapest way to manage utility bills in our
buildings. The key to this was doing our own independent testing and having
unbiased results. With our HVAC adjustments, light bulb changes, and the use of
timers in our buildings we cut utility bills to 50% or less. And we maintained
this for over a 2 year period. In short, keep the temp in your unit consistent,
don’t use motion sensors, or timers. It
costs money to heat or cool all the objects in your house, and your house
Ding! Ding! Ding!! ECONOMIZER! That what I need exactly! The air outside to always cooler. I struggled with also installing a whole house fan along with the air conditioning because of the situation here but this is like having both. Thanks for that.
The smart fan feature would be a problem since I have less than ideal placement of the intake register... its at the very top of a wall next to a 10 foot ceiling upstairs and the thermostat is downstairs. (Placement of the intake cannot be changed.) Having that hot air upstairs circulated throughout actually heats up the living area downstairs. If with the economizer I have 30 minutes to vent that heat then I think I have my solution.
Currently the upstairs heat is an issue at bedtime if the windows have been left closed. It may get to 80 degrees inside upstairs during the 75 degree heat of the day (with the windows closed) maybe once a month. Opening the 7 foot high windows does a lot to vent heat. Keep them open and this is not an issue. This does NOT excuse the current tenants with the air on at 62 downstairs... the upstairs where they are sleeping is most certainly 62 degrees as well all night especially with the 57 degree outdoor temp.
The thing with not adjusting the temps back and forth is that each guest is different with air conditioner use. The dutch family that left before these air hogs arrived actually contacted me and wanted to make sure the air conditioning never turn on during their stay. When guests arrive I have all the windows open and the air off and it often stays that way. Trying for a consistant air temp scenario does not seem possible or wise with all the window varibles and occupants often leaving for 12 hours siteseeing.
My condenser is not icing up that I know of... its brand new. Someone mentioned that the their condenser would 'freeze up' if the outdoor temps were lower.
and YES... I can't wait to get in the unit tomorrow to set a limit of 68-76! I have to take into account the thermostat being downstairs and not only it being warmer upstairs but all the furnace heat traveling up the stairwell before it warms downstairs.
I thought the econmizer would be the answer but I have a indoor Goodman furnace placed high in cabinet just below the second floor ceiling and an Amana AC unit just above it outside on the flat roof. My HVAC guy says the economizer although a good idea in my situation will not work. It is usually for a commercial rooftop package unit. Even Honeywell tech support says their JADE economizer module will not work for me as configured.
Now the thermostat is limited to a low of 70 degrees but the new guest in the unit has all the windows closed all day with air conditioning chugging away all night as its a 63 degree outside temp. Its driving me crazy... I want to open their windows to the perfectly quiet night air.
Yes the other guest was outrageous with the 62 degree temps for 16 hours a day and I guess I need to accept 70 degree settings and get use to paying the extra money... but man that economizer would have been a great way to use the cool night air. Any ideas or how to make it work?
I share your concern 6x more than you do, my vacation property is in Nicaragua and the energy cost there is $0.65 /kWH compared to $0.10 in the USA, plus it is 75-95 degrees outside all the time, no A/C means no business.
I have tried multiple things and had multiple guests with different lifestyles. Some have saved a long time to have a budget vacation, others simply don't care about the costs, they just want to be comfortable. Some are coming to run away from the Canadian cold, others want to feel in Alaska all the time.
My solution has been to allow the guest to set their own temperature, I will not disturb their lifestyle.
Set a daily energy limit included in the contract that covers 80% of the people using reasonable amount of energy and charge the excess to those who want to freeze and keep the doors open. I make this very clear in the contract, in bold letters next to the rental fee, and in the house rules.
Other local VR neighbors charge 100% of the electricity deducting it from the security deposit and make their rental rate net.
If I had a health issue and needed the cold allergen free air, I will be willing to pay extra for my medical or lifestyle needs, if I am on a budget, I would make sure the family conserves.
Hope this works for you,
I'd like to add verbage to my rental agreement like yours. Are you willing to share your agreement with me? If so, please private email it to me!
These are some clauses I have on the contract and house rules.
Owner pays water, gas and 100 kWH of electricity per day. Guest pays excess electricity at U$0.65/kWH.
Electricity is extremely expensive in Nicaragua (U$0.65 per kWH compared to $0.10 in the USA). The daily limit of 100 kWH included is sufficient for normal use. Running the air conditioning all day or with the doors open, keeping the lights on all night, or keeping excess lights on will certainly exceed the daily limit. Help us save the environment conserving energy.
Hope it works.