Guests & Heating Issues

Heating seems to be a recurring issue with my guests in winter. Sometimes it’s strange. I had one guest describe their bedroom as “icy cold”. It was so cold they couldn’t sleep! They asked for a second heater. Worried, I immediately went over thinking it must be broken. After checking with a thermostat, I discovered their “icy cold” room was 28 degrees Celcius. :expressionless: They hadn’t even turned the temperature up fully.

My most recent review said:

The only thing is it was a little cold when we got there and takes a few days to warm up.

Days! This definitely shouldn’t be the case. We have a reverse cycle heat pump in our open plan living room. I know from experience that it only takes a few minutes to warm the space up.

I think there is an expectation that every square inch of the house must be heated to a ridiculous degree at all times. This is why, in spite of our house rules asking guests not to, they leave the heat pump running 27/7 (hooray for my electricity bill!).

Ranting aside, I do want to try to assure potential guests that it doesn’t take days for the heating in our listing to work. I’d be grateful for any opinions on my attempt at an informative and polite response -

Thank you for your kind words, X. Our city is quite cold in winter, however it definitely shouldn’t take several days for the house to warm up! There is a heat pump in our open plan living room, which should warm up the space within a few minutes. Each bedroom also has a heater, which we turn on prior to arrival.

I don’t want to be speculative, but I believe that some guests just don’t realise that each heater is only meant to warm up a particular space. They aren’t supposed to collectively heat up the whole house. If guests aren’t closing doors, heat is just escaping into the hallway. Do I try to address this in the review? Or, should I simply throw in a “did you perhaps mean hours?”

(Before anyone asks, yes, we do have information sheets specifically pointing out how to use the heaters, and to keep the doors closed. People just don’t read them. They do, however, read the reviews.)

Can you assess what geographies these ice-cold guests were from? And where you are located yourself? Sometimes the difference in climate between their country and where you are can create issues.

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My house is ancient & bloody freezing and I have never had a complaint as I have oil heaters on and nice essential oil infusers in most rooms and give slippers and gowns.

It’s all in the communication and not setting guests up to fail. Make it all SIMPLE and fool proof. I find split system heaters/sitcoms very hard to use when I travel and usually give up assuming they are broken.

It only gets to about 3 degrees Celsius where I am though but many of my
guests come from super cold countries where everything is centrally heated which it is not here as it’s hot 8 months of the year. I’ll be making my own complaints at Xmas when I visit my sister in Minneapolis where I hear it gets to -30 Celsius! Sheesh!!!

If you are getting multiple complaints then you are doing something wrong. Give tips, clear written instructions and consider some oil heaters on timers for hallways and the like. They barely cost anything to run. Those of us with brittle bones or who live in the tropics really feel the chill :slight_smile: :ski::skier::snowboarder::snowflake:️:snowman:️:snowman_with_snow:️:snowflake:️:snowman_with_snow:️:snowflake:️:snowman_with_snow:️:snowflake:️

Normally, the heat pumps that I know of work on low heat, which means that it does take a long time to heat up a space, and therefor it’s much better to just maintain the heat at a certain level (21 - 22°C) with maybe slightly lowering the heat at night.

How is the space actually heated? Air, underfloor heating, large radiators, convectors?

Someone who expects a space to be 28°C is of course quite surprising, no matter where they are from.

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We have a private room on Airbnb so we control the heat but we also provide an electric space heater and a gas fireplace that helps. What we do is keep an internal temperature gauge in one of the bedrooms. It is tied to our weather station and we can always see the temperature and adjust our heater accordingly.

If you have an entire place there are thermostats you can control and view online. Maybe worth checking out? Your Airbnb needs to have Wifi for it to work. Then you can see what the real temp is of your place. Guests can control it but so can you!

I think you’ll need to educate your guests about how your heating system works. Until reading this post I’d never heard of a reverse cycle heat pump. Also, in my experience heating systems for entire houses heat up a large area of the house )or in our case because we have a small house, the entire house). not just a particular space. The only heaters I know of that heat a particular space are space heaters. If Google can be trusted, 28 degrees Celsius is about 82 degrees Fahrenheit. Personally, I would be miserably hot, but there are posters on this board who find it to be a comfortable temperature.

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'xactly! You shouldn’t have to take the heat about such a thing!

I had guests expecting me to turn on the heating in mid-May in a Mediterranean country. It wasn’t even a particularly cold May. But they came with the suitcase full of summer clothes and nothing warmer to wear in the evening. I told them I cannot turn on the heating as the whole system has to be started and radiators vented, as we haven’t been heating for 2 months already. I offered more blankets and a small electrical heater. They weren’t really happy about it, I got 4 stars and it was mentioned again in the private feedback. Btw the guests were Brits, so I was really surprised by their intolerance to cold. I find it unreasonable to expect that the place will be heated at all times to the level in which you can comfortably walk around just in your underwear. I’m usually trying to keep the place at the room temperature. If that is not enough for someone, they should put on more clothes.

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It’s the kind of Brit that complains that chips * in Benalmadena don’t taste like in the chippy back home. Did they demand a full fry-up for brekkie?!

* (Americans: chips = fries)
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Oil column heaters are extremely expensive to run, at least where I live. At $70.00 to $90.00 (AUD) a night for a two-bedroom house, it’s not really practical for us to heat the hallway in winter. Guests spend, at most, a few minutes walking between the bedrooms and the bathroom, or the open plan living room, and so it seems unnecessary for this space to need a heater.

We already provide information sheets for heating, but unfortunately guests don’t read them.

While I’m not sure about other heat pumps, on all that I’ve encountered you can change the temperature and output settings to suit your preferences. The one in our listing goes up to a maximum of 32 degrees Celcius, and I know from personal experience that it only takes a few minutes for the space to warm up after it’s been turned on.

There are off peak/storage heaters in the bedrooms. These are turned on before arrival (one guest kindly noted that the bedrooms were warm upon check-in in their review). The open plan living area has a heat pump, and the bathroom has heat lamps. The only space that doesn’t have its own heating system is the hallway, however when all the heaters in the house at turned on it does benefit from residual warmth (it will be comfortably mild, but not 25 degrees).

Maybe it’s the name that’s causing confusion? A reverse cycle heat pump is just an air conditioner that can also produce heat, rather than just cooling the area.


Your responses says a lot Zoe. You continue to get complaints yet you slam my advice and make exaggerated claims about electricity prices when I am just trying to respond genuinely to your request for advice.

I charge a lot les than $90 a night for my room (with generous breakfast supplies) live in Australia, have up to 3 guests in the room. I have 2 oil column heaters running 20/24 hours a day plus a gas heater in my room, and electric heaters in guest and my son’s rooms. My electric bill is around $55 a fortnight. That is not expensive. The cost of having a cosy home is part of the cost of running my Airbnb.

I get that you feel it’s excessive to have some areas heated but guests clearly do not. I would have less of lots of things I provide my guests if it was just me and my son but guests paying by the night expect more than they get at home.

You can ignore all the advice here and find reasons not to try any of it but you keep getting complaints about heating and I guarantee you will have lost bookings over it. I’ve never had a complaint about heating in four years of hosting the room and my reviews are consistently 5 star but what would I know.

Well, I really don’t know what I said to merit this response… :face_with_raised_eyebrow:

I’m not sure where in Australia you live, however in Tasmania electricity is unfortunately quite expensive and portable heaters, like the oil column heaters you suggested, are estimated to cost a maximum of 155.4 cents an hour to run, in comparison to 33.6 cents an hour for a heat pump. source My electricity bill is not as low as yours, and I imagine there is a difference in expenses between an in-house host and someone with a whole house listing. Without meaning to sound repetitive, our 2-bedroom, entire house listing hosts up to 6 guests for as low as $70 p/n in winter. We also provide a generous breakfast (what a coincidence!). I don’t think that my lack of inclination to add a heater in the hallway is unreasonable. But hey, as a host with generally 80-90% 5 stars and 6 years experience, what would I know! :smirk:

I’m certainly not ignoring the opinions given here. However, the intention of my post was to ask for advice on how to reply and convey that it shouldn’t take days for my listing to get to a comfortable temperature… If it did, I can only speculate that my guests might have left all the doors open and tried to use the heaters to collectively warm the entire house, which isn’t what the system is intended to do. Many of the “complaints” (as you call them) I receive are from guests who feel that 28 degrees Celcius is “icy cold”, and so I don’t think that adding an extra heater in the hallway is going to do much to assuage their discomfort. And I do try to “give tips” as you suggested, but apparently pointing this out has caused offence. :roll_eyes:


Your’s is a AIR - AIR - heat pump. Which should indeed be able to heat your space in a short time. It isn’t really energy efficient at low temperatures.

Please allow me to work a little bit more on the analysis of your problem:
Is your house a solid construction (bricks, concrete) or a wooden construction? Any idea of the insulation level?
And in winter do you let the temperature drop inside? Are there days / weeks that it’s cold outside but you just shut of the heating? Maybe when you don’t have guests?


It’s a double brick house. I’m not sure what type was used in the walls, however there is glasswool insulation in the ceiling. Other things to note are:

  • floorboard throughout the house (no insulation underneath), with the exception of half of the open plan living area, which is part of an extension that was built on a concrete base
  • large windows in the open plan living area (not double glazed)

We are generally booked quite solidly, even in winter, and so the off-peak heaters tend to stay on at all times. If there are a few days that are unbooked, we turn them off. However, they are always turned back on the day prior to a guest’s arrival, so that the bedrooms are warm upon check-in. We don’t pre-heat the open plan living area for guests, as once the heat pump is turned on it will do so quite quickly.

Ok, my best guess is that the guests who complained about the house being chilly arrived just after you had the house (almost) unheated for a few days.
Could this be right?

I will now try to explain my theory :wink:… please hold tight :sweat_smile:
It all has to do with the fact that different temperatures will always try to even out as much as possible, and this is done through 3 types of warmth transfer: conduction, convection and radiation. Hold on to this thought.

When you turn off your heat or only use your off-peak heaters the temperature in your rental will drop to a much lower temperature. You’re off-peak heaters were only dimensioned to heat a bedroom, so they won’t be able to stop the house, and everything in it (air and furniture), from cooling down.
However this process will be slowed down depending on the level of insulation. And also due to the fact that your brick walls and concrete floors have a lot of mass and in this mass they have a lot of energy stored: Heavy materials have this moderating characteristic. This is wonderful but it’s also a two cutting sword. Hold on to this thought.

When your guests arrive after your house has inevitably cooled down after a few days without heating the following things will happen:

  • They will turn on your air-air-heat pump that will start blowing warm air into the room. Warm and cool air will start moving around and will mix together: We call this convection. Since air has no mass and therefor no moderating quality it will heat up quickly and the thermostat will show a pleasant temperature. People should be feeling comfortable :smiley: but NO :disappointed: :confused::roll_eyes::scream::cry: it’s not only convection that is at play.
  • People will sit down on the furniture that is still relatively cold (remember the moderating quality of mass) and because of conduction their body will start losing heat to the furniture. Conduction is the principle where two masses (body and furniture) touch and energy is transferred from one to the other. Your guests will feel cold for the time it takes for their body to heat up the area they are touching. Luckily your furniture isn’t made from concrete, so the mass is limited and it won’t take that long. However, your guest will experience some discomfort.
  • But then we come to the real problematic part: radiation. Two masses that are NOT touching will also transfer energy to balance out. Your brick and concrete house is a huge cold mass at this moment and your guests’ bodies will start losing energy to it. Because the walls are that cold the transfer of energy will be too high for the body to compensate by burning calories and your guests will feel chilly! This will be so regardless of the air temperature indicated by your thermostat.

In summary, when you let your brick house go too cold it’s a very large mass to heat up again, and this takes time. As long as this mass isn’t heated enough this will cause discomfort for your guests because of the radiation principle.

There are two ways to prevent this discomfort:

  • Option 1: Counteract the effect of the cold walls by installing a mass that would radiate heat towards your guests: e.a. a :bulb: radiator :bulb: in the strict or wide sense of the word. It could be a radiator or a stove at high temperature. Both are not that energy efficient.
    Underfloor heating would also be considered a radiator. It works at low temperatures and is therefor considered energy efficient, but the mass is that big that it’s not useful for heating a space up quickly. Just for heating up itself (floor+heating system) it will take several days.
  • Option 2: Don’t let the temperature drop that low! Keep the house at a decent temperature (15°C - 18°C) when not occupied. This appears to be crazy because of the energy waste, but keep in mind that it relatively requires a lot more energy to heat from 5°C to 21°C than from 15°C to 21°C. To put it in other words: You might lose more energy if you let the temperature drop for a few days, than to just keep the heating on for a few days. Experiment to see what minimum temperature prevents your place from going chilly.

Now, if it turns out that it’s too costly to maintain a minimum temperature of +/- 15°C, I have some bad news: Your house is seriously lacking insulation, and it was kind of a waste of money to put in a heat pump in such a lousily insulated house.
Major tip for everyone: Insulation is the cake, ventilation is the icing, heat pumps / solar panels and everything fancy is only the cherry. It comes in the end!
But don’t despair :relaxed: !!! Just look for ways to insulate your house much better, and once you have decided to do some major work don’t hesitate to put in a unexpectedly tick layer of insulation.
In that case, contact a local architect to advise you on the best insulation level and ventilation options for your type of climate.

Now I’m just secretly hoping that you understood some of it.


Moderators, I’m a bit disappointed to not get any badge for the longest post ever :sob:.


Maybe instead of saying :“did you perhaps mean hours”, you could say:" I think there is a typing mistake in the review. The heater does not take days to warm up, it warms up the room very quickly". Then future guests will know the living room will be warm.

I am also amazed at how high some guests push the temperature up to 30 Celcius in the middle of Winter. They walk around in singlets and shorts, meanwhile in my normal clothes I feel like I’m in a sauna.

I had one guest from China ask for an electric blanket in the middle of Summer. I could not find a single shop that stocked electric blankets that time of year. I apologised to my next guest that there was no electric blanket and he looked at me as if I was silly and said “you do realise, I’m Scottish.” We are all so different. It’s part of the charm of working with people from other cultures, but it is a little annoying getting the electricity bills after hosting guests from hot climates. It’s usually triple.

Mind you, I did stay in an Airbnb last week where the living areas were very warm but my room was cold as the host didn’t put a heater in there and it was snowing outside.

Send us a bill for your professional services rendered! :rofl::rofl::rofl: