Electricity usage monitoring

Hi Folks,

This is by way of a followup to Reducing energy usage. The forum software helpfully bought up that thread when I started typing this one. As an update to that thread, we’ve moved most of our lighting to LED now. It wasn’t expensive. However, I haven’t set up any timers yet.

In any case, our electricity bill for the past month is again way up, after being reasonable for much of the past six months. The month before that was up too.

I was thinking of installing an electric power meter to monitor power usage in real time in the guest room. I suspect some guests leave the A/C running and leave for the day. But if they do so, then the electrical output for the room would be high. And if they turn everything off as they should, power consumption should be close to zero. This is corroborated partly by noticing that guests not infrequently leave the A/C running on checkout. And people are (I assume) more careful to turn stuff off on checkout then if they are just leaving the room during their stay. And they are constantly leaving exterior lights on, sometimes all night. E.g. there’s a corridor outside the room - it’s common for that corridor light to be left on, even in the daytime.

Note: most of my guests are tourists, and frequently couples. They usually here for a few days (three is common) and are often out most of the day.

A question - I realise that this isn’t an electrical engineering forum, but if the A/C compressor is off and just the fan is running (which happens with all A/Cs that are not inverters) will the power usage still be high? Or does it fluctuate a lot, depending on whether the compressor is running?

Anyway, I figure I can monitor the meter, and if the dial shows high usage and the guests are not at home, I can go into the guest room and turn stuff off. I can tell if they are out, because the guest room door uses a padlock on the outside.

Another question: is this something I should tell the guests about, or just do it? I.e. should I tell them that I’m monitoring the electrical usage in the room, and may go in to turn stuff off if they are not at home? (As I write it, it does sound like an absurd thing to say.)

Here are some possible examples of energy meters I found on Amazon India.

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Hi @Robert_Dudley,

Thanks for the comments.

I think it makes sense to just turn off the A/C entirely, especially in a small space like my guest room, when the guests are guaranteed to be gone for hours. In general they are out for at least 8 hours during the day, sometimes longer. Of course, some people do stay in, it depends. But most of the time they are out.

I’ve noticed the A/C only takes a few minutes to cool the room down - it’s not a large space. Also, the A/C is relatively new, it was bought for the room rental, and wasn’t really used till the first guests arrived last May. Also, I have a service plan for the A/C - they come periodically to clean out the A/C. I think the plan we have is 6 times a year, or once every two months. Though they aren’t dependable about coming - you have to call them. More frequently might be better; the air is really dirty here.

And I’ve already been to great pains to seal the place up. Though there is a hole at floor level which I think could do with better sealing. I’m making a mental note to look at it again.

You’re right @faheem. There’s a common myth with heating and air conditioning that it’s better to leave it on low than turn it off. It’s actually better to just use it when you need it.

I am not monitoring energy, but we do go into rooms on a daily basis to check if there is still enough toilet paper etc.
When we go in, we always turn off everything.

We know from experience that some cultures are used to leave the lights on, and leave the heating on, even when they are gone. So when we see they are gone, we go in and switch off all the lights and turn down the heaters.

Which cultures are those? I don’t know a single culture where anyone wastes their own money leaving lights/ac/heating unnecessarily.

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Those where heating and electricity are virtually “free”.

Places where heat is a byproduct of the industry (and power plants) and where you pay a flat rate included in your rent (a lot of eastern european big cities).

Ad other places where electricity is almost free: http://www.constructionweekonline.com/article-34734-rethinking-electricity-charges-in-saudi-arabia/

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Just out of interest have you had loads of guests from Saudi Arabia then?

Yes, our region is very popular with (rich) guest from the middle east. We get about 70.000 each year to visit our region.

During the summer they come here to visit the snow, the mountains and the lakes.

Very polite and friendly people, but not very aware of their (energy) consumption.

Ah interesting. I’ve never had a Saudi guest but then nor would I expect one- my budget property wouldn’t appeal.

Don’t be surprised, I have a budget property too.

But it is important they have privacy. They want their own space with no one else in it.

I cant go inside the rented home by law without approval of a guest. My present guests have a big problem with anyone coming to the property if they are not there. Even pool guy. We always have to inform them and they are always home . I would love to have to be able to control the usage remotedly

Are you sure about that Yana? We have laws like that but they only cover landlord/tenant relationships.

Are you sure? There is a difference between short term rental, and long term rental.
Short term rental guests have a lot less right than long term rentals.

If you cannot go into a rented property, how do hotels near you make the beds?

We rent rooms (LTR) to college kids and currently I have two from the Middle East. When they first moved in they would keep the heating unit that heats the kitchen and back part of the house set at 80 deg (F). I had to set the expectation that 72 is the max. They can set the temp for their own rooms and I suspect they keep those high as well since I had an American kid move in and wanted to run the A/C in his room but couldn’t since all heat/air units are on a single condenser and the condenser was currently generating heat.

That was our first realization that people from different parts of the world will sense changing of seasons differently. 85 deg outside was barely warm for one and uncomfortably warm for another.

My listing is fairly inexpensive and it’s not private. They get their own room, but the bathroom is shared between the guests and my husband and me. I have had a few guests from Saudi, Arabia. One of them, in the private notes portion of the review, requested a lock for the bedroom door. He said that the only reason is that Arabs and Muslims are used to it.

The country I get the most guests from is Mainland China. I have noticed that our Chinese guests don’t usually turn off lights when they leave a room. It doesn’t bother me as the only room I don’t access while guests are here is the guest room. I was very surprised when a Chinese guest told me that the highways in the U.S. are unsafe as they are not lighted. I was surprised that highways are lighted in any country as this seems like it would take a huge amount of energy. As you can see from this attachment, energy is inexpensive in China.

In the U.S. turning off lights when you leave a room is a relatively recent phenomenon. When I was a child it was commonly, and incorrectly, believed that if you were leaving a room for less than half an hour it would use more energy to turn the light off then on again than to leave it on.


You are right, i hardly rent short terms anymore. My minimum is a week but
mostly i rent for a month or more. Mostly to corporate people. And i signed
a very simple lease with them. Plus these particular group is very cautious
about letting us in with out them being at home. Weird, because with other
groups there was never any problems. And these guys are very clean and
organized, its not like they keep incredible mess and they dont want us to

I think you can state in your lease that you may enter the property for maintenance related issues with 24 hours of notice?

Maybe highways aren’t lit in the US - they are here in the UK. The only roads that aren’t lit are country roads and yes they feel unsafe, because visibility is severely reduced.

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That is an urban myth, that has a true origin.
Fluorescent tubes take 10 to 15 minutes to heat up come to full brightness, so switching them on and off all the time does not consume more energy, it does give you a lot less light. So people were advised to leave them on when they did not leave the room for a long time.