Customize your experience by selecting your role:
Owner, Property Manager, or Traveler
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 put the Costal Green thermostat and hot water controls at our beach house and the theromostat at the beach condo. One thing you have to make sure the renters know (because they've called and said the air wasn't working ) is that if the doors are left open the AC kicks off. You can control the range they can set the theromstat and with the Hot Water heater it turns off after a certain period if no motion is detected. Since we get few rentals for a 6 bedroom house after Labor Day it's a big savings on the water heater
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 loss 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.
When I rent, I would hope that the 74 degree AC setting restriction would be provided to me prior to my signing an agreement and reserving. I would be very angry if such restrictions on termperatures (heat or AC) were sprung on us after arrival. I would also be very suspicious as IF true, it indicates that there is no enough air flow (filters dirty or improperly sized) or that the unit needs servicing and likely more coolant.
I certainly would not mind reasonable requests but restrictions IMO should be in the contract and disclosed in advance. Same with limits on pool heat and spas. I do know to ask about pool and spa temperatures in advance.
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.
Something like http://www.ekmmetering.com/ekm-metering-products/complete-metering-packages/120-240v-package.html could be used to monitor electricity consumption for the entire dwelling or it could be set up to track power usage for only a single circuit, such as the A/C, pool pump and heater, etc., or it could track multiple circuits. It can feed the data to you via the internet.
I don't know if that particular product would be a good choice, but it is the type of thing that can do remote metering.
If you could have your cleaner do meter readings before and after guests, you might get by with much less expensive equipment; if the circuit being metered was 120 volts, something as simple as a kill-a-watt meter could be used.
I have also been in the HVAC field for many years. I have a cabin in the Smoky Mountain area. We all have to deal with high electric bills due mostly a/c usage. I originally installed a wii fii system with all of the bells and wistles but had a lot of problems with communacations. What I did was purchased a Honeywell focus pro 6000 stat. It cost about $70.00. you can set min and max temp set points. I also installed a thermal switch on the condencing unit that shuts it down when the outside air reaches 65 degrees. This seemed to make my bills a little manageable. It sounds like your guest are setting the temp down low to combat the higher temp in the upper level. I suggest is close off the dampers to the lower level part of the way in effort to force more air to the upper floor. Ray
I send guest "House Rules" prior to check in along with area info. check i instructions, etc. One of our house rules is do not turn the A/C below 68 or the unit will shut off. I also have a copy of our "House Rules" in our home and have never had a complaint about this policy.
Despite the fact that the original post is a year old, there are few current responses, so thought I would respond too.
Here in central California, AC is quite expensive during the summer months. We do not charge extra for AC, but wish we could - but we will not go there. We used to have a swamp cooler at the cabin (our rental), but changed the unit to a central AC system many years ago. So then we added a secure cover on the thermostat so someone could not mess with it. Here in California we do experience black-outs if the power company cannot handle overuse at certain times of the year and certain times of the day. Our power company recommends setting the AC at 78 degrees. That is what we keep our own house set at and it is fine with us. We also open up at night to benefit from the cool night breezes. But in the summer we can get days over 100 degrees - luckily with no humidity. Through the years most of our guests accepted the 78 degrees which was noted in the rental agreement that they signed. But if someone could not deal with the 78 degree temperature setting, we told them to let us know and we would adjust the temperature to their desired setting. Not many asked us to adjust the setting, but a few did. FYI, we never got a negative review because of this process.
But fearing a negative review, last year we decided to remove the secure cover on the thermostat. So now everyone is free to set the AC at whatever temp they so desire. It makes us very angry when someone abuses the AC and sets the temp in the 60s or low 70s. But we grin and bear it, but will not hesitate to put the guest on the "do-no-rent-to-again" list. We also get angry when a guest refuses to open up at night to benefit from the cool night breezes, instead of running the AC. For many it is a security issue and they are obviously used to locking up and cocooning at home. FYI, our property is in the middle of nowhere and security is just not an issue. We leave our own doors unlocked as we come and go.
Tomorrow it is supposed to hit 100+ degrees and stay there for over a week. We will see how the next guest in deals with the AC. It has been a real eye opener into humanity as to how some people are so respectful of their new environment away from home and then others could care less. I think the attitude is that they are on vacation and could care less about conserving energy. After all they are paying for it, so they should not have to worry about a few degrees in order to be comfortable. Guess we are all different...
Actually the thermostat I was talking about in my original post was the Nest Thermostat. I had just put it in. Turns out it had many more features than I thought. I was able to put a limit on how high or low the heating and cooling could can be set to. If motion stops in the unit...the air conditioning or heating goes off automatically. It's saved me so much money.
I set the air conditioning limiting feature to 70 and if I look up and see windows open I pull out my iPhone app to see if they're running air-conditioning inside...if so, I just turn it off with my phone! Then I text them and tell them that the thermostat is alerting me that windows are open and shutting down. You have to be careful with these thermostats as they get more popular... people know it's bull crap you're telling them. :P
I strongly suggest this thermostat for you.
1. Install Awnings
A hundred years ago, awnings were common on hotels, office buildings, and the grandest of houses, for a very good reason: they shaded the window and kept the heat of the sun out. They fell out of favour when the preferred method of dealing with too much solar energy became the application of electrical energy through air conditioning. They were also a high-maintenance item; it probably took quite a few workers to put them up every spring on some of the bigger installations.
According to the Washington Post, The Department of Energy estimates that awnings can reduce solar heat gain—the amount temperature rises because of sunshine—by as much as 65 percent on windows with southern exposures and 77 percent on those with western exposures. Your furniture will last longer, too.
According to the Professional Awning Manufacturers Association, a totally unbiased source, window awnings can reduce household cooling energy by as much as 26 percent in hot climates, and 33 percent in cold climates.
2. Plant Vines
Frank Lloyd Wright once said “a doctor can bury his mistakes, but an architect can only advise his clients to plant vines.” It turns out he could have been a mechanical engineer, for it is surprising how effective vines are at keeping a house cool. With the new weatherization grants, the salesmen are out peddling ground source heat pumps to keep you cool for less, but really, free is better.
Climbers can dramatically reduce the maximum temperatures of a building by shading walls from the sun, the daily temperature fluctuation being reduced by as much as 50%. Together with the insulation effect, temperature fluctuations at the wall surface can be reduced from between 10°/14°F to 60°C/140°F to between 5°C/41°F and 30°/86°F. Vines also cool your home through envirotranspiration, described in TreeHugger’s post Be Cool and Plant A Tree.
Surprisingly, they also work in winter to keep you warm, by maintaining a pillow of air and reducing wind chill. Heating demand can be reduced by 25%.
Some say that vines damage a building, but if the masonry or siding is in good shape they should be fine. Others claim that it actually protects the building from very heavy rainfall and hail, and shields the building from the effects of ultraviolet light, which can degrade paints and some sidings.
Top that off with the fact that it absorbs pollutants and offers a habitat for insects, spiders and birds.
So it is another low-tech, energy free way of shading your home and keeping cool, perhaps even eliminating the need for air conditioning in many climates.
3. Plant a Tree
I don’t own an air conditioner. The house immediately to the south does it for us, completely shading the south side of our house. What it misses, a huge ancient maple in its front yard gets, so in winter I get a lot of sun in my window, and in summer I am always in shade. A tree is as sophisticated as any electronic device around; it lets the sun through in winter and grows leaves in summer to block it.
And wait, there’s more: Oikos writes:
“Trees provide a cooling bonus. To keep themselves cool, trees pump water from the ground into their leaves. As this water evaporates from the surface of the leaves, it cools the tree. This ‘evaporative cooling’ cools the surrounding area, too.”
They estimate that the energy savings can be as high as 50%. (In our case, where we don’t own an air conditioner, they probably are.) So before you invest in fancy hardware, invest in a tree. The payoff will probably be faster and last a lot longer.
4. Tune Your Windows
The windows on your home are not just holes in the wall that you open or close: they are actually part of a sophisticated ventilation machine. It is another “Oldway”—People used to take it for granted that you tune them for the best ventilation, but in this thermostat age we seem to have forgotten how.
For instance, everyone knows that heat rises, so if you have high windows and open them when it hot inside, the hot air will vent out. But it can be a lot more sophisticated than that. When air passes over your home, it works the same way as it does over an airplane wing: the Bernoulli effect causes the air on top and on the downwind side of the house to be at a lower pressure than on the upwind side. So if you have double hung windows, you can open the bottom section of the upwind side of the house and the upper section of the downwind side, and the low pressure will suck the air through your house. Make the outlet openings larger than the inlet opening, it increases the draft. That is why I love double hung windows; they offer the most flexibility and options. Others say that casement windows are best because they can open up to 100%; double hungs can never be open more than 50%. However, I have seen studies (which I cannot find) that show that double hung windows actually work better because of the many options in setting them.
5. Ceiling Fans
Collin notes that using them is one of our 25 Ways to Save the Planet, and they can save you some cash since they operate at a fraction of central and window air-conditioning units (and they can work great in tandem with your A/C if global warming has you sweating it out). As Energy Star reminds us, ceiling fans help keep you cool, rather than cooling the entire room.
I think the new Haiku from Big Ass Fans is particularly elegant.
6. Install Operating Shutters
The best way to deal with unwanted solar gain is to keep it out in the first place. One can do that with properly designed overhangs or bris soleil, which keep out the sun in summer but are designed to let it in during winter. However, this is not very flexible. Another option is the exterior blind, quite common in Europe or Australia but expensive and hard to find in North America, where upfront cost always loses out to operating cost.
Shutters really are the most amazing overlooked technology. They provide ventilation, security, shading and storm protection in one simple device.
Both my husband and I are architects and have done everything with the building given the possible wind and snow conditions atop the mountain - large overhangs, arbors, ceiling fans, insulation, tinted windows and adjustable mini-blinds on the large glass sliding doors. It's the people that we cannot control. But actually I am delighted to be able to add people to our do-not-rent-to list. It gives me great satisfaction that I can do that and there is nothing they can do
There seems to be a lot of options if you have some type of central air. Our unit has a Window type air conditioning that uses a remote to control it. The Air Conditioning unit does go through an On/Off switch on the wall.
I was wondering if I could get many of the benefits that people are mentioning here if I were to set the Air Conditioner to 68 degrees (and hide the remote) and change out the switch to an eight hour timer and hang a sign above the switch asking people to conserve. That way people would have to physically reset the timer for the Air Conditioner to run and read the sign/request each time.
Trying to figure out options. Have a small 1 bedroom Ocean Front unit in Hawaii and just received a $307 electric bill. Frankly that's more than I pay for our large house for two months (both electric and gas). Thinking of also installing a security screen door to encourage people to just open the Lanai doors and the front door to get better airflow through the unit. (downside is salt then manages to coat everything).
When we had a locked cover over the thermostat set at 78 degrees, we had an on/off switch too, so that people could turn the air off if they wanted to open up at night instead of running the AC all night. But I feared a negative review, so you take that chance if you do not allow people to do as they please. I would raise my rates instead of trying to control use of the AC. People are funny and want it THEIR way. Setting the AC at 68 degrees would be WAY too cold for me and I would not use the AC if that was my only option for a setting. I would want to leave rather than freeze - just me...
Your right. 68 degrees would probably be to cold for a lot of people. I don't think I have a way of setting a minimum temp with this unit though. Maybe just having it on a timer, along with a sign requesting people conserve energy might be sufficient for most of the situations.
I'm listening to the AC running next door -- it's a rental also, not mine -- and it's about 65 degrees outside. These guests have been running the AC since they arrived, night and day. Drives me crazy!! Open the windows and let that lovely ocean breeze in!!
Of course, when I open my window, all I hear is his AC.
I solved this issue once and for all, I set the daily electricity limit to 100 kWH in the contract, and charge the excess at $0.65 per kWH. I found that 80% of my guests use less than 100 kWH and those who don't care, I don't worry about charging them. In my case, the housekeeper reads the meter and calls me with damage and electric usage. In the USA you can check the usage online.
I do this so I don't have to bother with 80% of the cases, some other homeowners charge from the first kWH, I don't like that since most guests are on a budget.
You will see the difference in how environmentally concious many guest become once they know they have to pay for the electricity.
We own a cabin in a mountain setting and I wouldn't dream of setting limits on how high someone sets the heat. People pay really good money to stay at our home and we want them to be comfortable.
If you can set alerts to automatically shut the system down if windows or doors are left open, great. But, to limit how cool or how warm someone keeps the house?
Often people come from drastically different locations and climates and quite possibly, by limiting the heat or cool, we are causing them to be uncomfortable. Yes, people can open windows at night, but if someone is traveling and doesn't know how safe or not the area is, they may not feel comfortable leaving windows open.
Lastly, as an ovarian cancer survivor who has horrible night sweats and hot flashes, I would not even consider staying somewhere where I can't lower the A/C lower than 78.
You are right people coming from different locality will really find it difficult if they are limited to heat or cool. Yes, if something can be done to automatically adjust the system speed or shut down when it senses open doors or windows. I would like to add one more thing like using sign sticker stating to "Save Energy" on prominent places could help.
I feel it's my job to provide everything for a wonderful vacation including all the air conditioning they want. I would hate to think someone had a bad vacation because they were too hot or too cold. We don't know the health or other issues that may cause our renters to need additional heating or air conditioning. I hope you can adjust your rates so your able to cover the additional costs involved.
I do believe our guest should be able to set the A/C where ever they want, but here is the problem. I am in the A/C feild and have a cabin in the Smoky Mountain area. I have a limit set on my A/C through the thermostat. I set this at 65. Guest will often turn the A/C down to 50 thinking it will work faster, than forget about it and leave for the day. This is real ******* the unit, it will cause the unit to freeze up, run rough, and limit its life expectany. It is like running your car low on oil. I have been doing this for three years and have not had a complaint yet.