I'm adding a guest thermostat or two

After reading @PaulRanson’s thread about Vance Packard’s book The Hidden Persuaders regarding 8 hidden human needs, I decided to take action. I wanted to give guests #5 - 'A sense of power’.

I want to give guests some sense of control over their comfort, especially the HVAC. I have an Ecobee3 lite smart thermostat but its locked out with a pin code and guests cannot adjust it. This is a shared house and there is more than one listing. I can’t have one guest making another uncomfortable so it has to be a compromise. I’ve been putting space heaters and window air conditioner units in the rooms but my home already has central heating and cooling and its been really wasteful of electricity so I took them out.

My solution? Install a ‘guest’ thermostat in the guest room. At first I thought to just install one of those mechanical mercury thermostats but it wouldn’t do anything. That might make guests upset.

Then I had the idea, why not just install another Ecobee but not connect it to the furnace control board? That way, guests can set the temperature and I will actually see what they set on my Ecobee app. Then, if possible, I can adjust the temperature on the real thermostat. I’ll receive alerts when the thermostat is adjusted through IFTTT.

I found a used, broken Ecobee3 Lite for sale on ebay for under $10 USD. It can’t be used to control an HVAC system, but it should power up, connect to wifi and appear to be functioning. I have a 24vac power brick I can power it with. There’s no base but I don’t need it. I can just use double sided tape.

I just thought I’d share my idea here. I realize this isn’t something most hosts would do for a whole place rental, but for shared units, its a good way to use technology that would otherwise be junk.

No, no and no. I had this situation in a hotel where they gave you the impression of control and temperature adjustment, but nothing happened when you altered the temperature. I became the guest from hell, demanding a maintenance person to FIX the issue. I called the front desk every hour until they admitted I had no control on the room temperature. In the end they did send someone who had to get into the ceiling to adjust it.
The next morning the duty manager had a chewed ear and the hotel an awful review!


Sounds like you’ll get at least one low review when you happen to have two guests that want the temp 10 degrees apart.

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Be prepared to be surprised! I had kind guests and abusive guests (not too many). Aka it’s 20F (-10C) outside and they set it to 84F (30C). Similarly in summer.

They are like, what do I care? It’s not my money!

Why not solve your problem instead of trying to trick your guests?


I once worked with a woman in London who called aircon maintenance EVERY SINGLE DAY for years to measure the temperature and adjust to her taste. Every afternoon at 3pm he would turn up and measure the temperature at the vent and declare it was working as per the settings. Every day she would show him her temperature reading taken at her desk which was several degrees warmer. He would note down her objection and leave. And then it would be repeated the next day. And the next day… She was German but I am not sure if that explained her dogged persistence.

There are two things I really hate: 1. people who think I am stupid and 2. people who lie to me. Bullshitting me combines the two.


Hi, I have an Ecobee and don’t see how you would spend your time monitoring what others do on the thermostat to change the temp. I think this is really a terrible idea. Sorry, no offense intended, but surely there are alot of other ways to accomplish what you want to do.

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I have a smart thermostat and occasionally I glance at the phone to see what they set it up to. When they come in it’s usually set to 70F (20C) no matter the season. Kind of like in my office. I let them crank it a bit upper or lower (according to everybody’s tastes), but if they set it up unreasonably high or low I adjust it immediately to 70 (20C). At night it’s programmed to be set 2 degrees lower (as it is recommended for good night sleep). Nobody ever complained. I, as a homeowner, don;t like to be taken advantage by guests who will set up the thermostat like in the tropics in winter and like in alaska in summer. So cheating and bs-ing goes both ways.

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Thanks for the positive input on this! On the Ecobee you can set the heating and cooling range and I think for a guest thermostat, I would set it within whatever the reasonability limits are for the climate and mechanics, probably 64-74 F here. There’s no reason to allow a guest to set the thermostat to 84 F in the winter because the insulation is so bad it would probably never reach that anyway. During the summer, its hard to keep the house below 74 F. The Ecobee has schedules and intelligence so its going to adjust the temperature when nobody is home or when everybody is sleeping anyway for example and override any manual hold setting.

I haven’t had any complaints here either because I think people are sort of used to and expect certain reasonable climate settings in places like offices and schools. Whether or not its their preference, they’re kind of used to an office or school being 70-71 F and learn to deal with it. I think having some control over that to adjust it a little bit would help guests feel better but let’s be honest, even if I let guests set the temperature to whatever the want, the mechanicals won’t magically make that happen. I can have 100% run time on my A/C during a hot day in the summer and this house won’t get below 72 degrees on a really hot day. So there’s really no cheating or bs-ing involved. When you set the temperature on the thermostat here, you’re just sort of tossing a coin and making a wish.

I can see what you are trying to do, but I think its a fudge.

Your not giving actual control, but the illusion of control. Using the Pine and Gilmore matrix about authenticity, it would not do what it says it is AND it is not true to itself. Sorry to come over all “ethics”.

I can see your hearts in the right place, but trust is difficult to build and quick to lose.

If you want to see reciprocation from trust then you need to trust up front.

I don’t have central heating in my airbnb but independent heaters. They cost a bundle to run.

I suspect that it is impossible to avoid people putting the heat/cooling on high. It is a matter of taste after all. I think the only way to mitigate this you include it in your fixed costs.

The behavioural issue that annoys me is when people leave the heating on when they check out.

I am sure there must be a tech solution to this though. I suspect using a NEST thermostat would be good.

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I use the nest thermostats and tell guests to feel free to put the temperature on whatever their preferences are while they are there. It will turn down when they are gone.

Additionally I have just started to use the Sense Energy Monitor in the home I live in and the foreclosure lake house i will Airbnb (not in the active Airbnb rental yet due to needing to do additional electrical modification to make it fit), but can use that to determine if guests have left things on that are consuming energy unnecessarily. Additionally I am working on getting cheap smart plugs so that I can turn off things left on when a guest is not there.

In the case of different rooms I am even considering putting different wattage bulb combos in so I know WHICH rooms have lights left on as well.

Thanks for your feedback Paul. I think for this property, there is just too many mechanical and structural limitations. My neighbor’s house has a similar layout but they used a series of mini-splits which are way more efficient than the central air. What I would probably have to do for this house is put in this motorized duct vents that close off or open air to certain rooms based on computer control. I might be a few years away from that.

@Militaryhorsegal that sounds like a great idea. I looked up what the sense energy monitor is and I see now that its 4 clamp on CT’s that go to a smart controller. I’ve actually already installed the non-smart version of this in the way of a panel watt-hour meter. I have to actually come down to the panel to read the instantaneous demand and kWh. I just write down my kWh reading each month or day to try and calculate energy usage. It costed $20 on ebay. The product is a Bayite BYT-VAEM-034. I’m only monitoring one circuit in this home.