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Vera Home Automation for your Airbnb

Posted by LiveHouse Automation on

A growing number of our customers are asking about solutions for managing their Airbnb properties, whether they are renting out their own homes or a separate property.

One of the useful features of a Home Automation System is the fact you have information and control when you're not there. If you're operating an Airbnb (or any short stay accomodation) then a Vera system can save you time, money, improve your guests experience and give you peace of mind. It can even help keep your friends.

Last year a friend and I tried out Airbnb in Sydney for an overnight stay for the first time. Part of the process was arranging to meet a friend of the host (who was overseas) in the CBD to get a key. While this afforded us the opportunity to meet a lovely young lady, it did add travel time and parking expense (considerable expense if you've ever tried to park in Sydney!) to our holiday which could have been better used elsewhere. I'm sure Maude would have liked to do something else on her lunch break too.

A Z-wave Door Lock, such as the Lockwood Digital Deadbolt would have allowed the Airbnb host to assign us a unique PIN code, which was active only for the duration of our stay. No worrying about handover/return of keys or if we'd properly locked the door when we left. One of our customers has taken this a step further and added Z-wave control of the automatic gate to their Airbnb using a Z-wave Security Keypad and our Garage Door Controller.

If your Airbnb is not nearby to you, then being able to open the door to allow cleaners or tradesman in on demand can take some of the hassle out of managing your property. For regular access, give them a code that's valid on particular days between certain hours - and get notified when they've used their codes. Add one of our IP Security Cameras and you can get a snapshot of who's been to the front door in addition to the deterrent benefit visible security brings to a vacant property.

So that's access control, how about saving money and maximising the return on your Airbnb?

In an ideal world, your guests would always turn out the lights, turn off the airconditioning, not leave the oven on, etc. This isn't an ideal world of course, but there are solutions to those problems. Obviously you want to match the cost of solving those problems to the cost those problems cause you. 

The most obvious one is heating/cooling. I'll be the first to admit my airconditioner at home has never heard of Energy Star ratings, but when it's running I know it costs me $1.90 an hour. If someone winds down the thermostat and leaves it on, that's $319 a week in electricity. There's a couple of ways to approach this kind of problem if you're running an Airbnb.

  • Monitor your entire energy usage with a Home Energy Monitor. Even if you don't have any appliance/lighting control, this will let you see if you're using a lot of energy when the property should be empty. Then you can investigate.
  • Monitor and control specific appliances with a Plug In module. This is great for smaller split systems that run on 10A or less. Not only can you monitor power consumption, you can automatically shut down appliances when the property is vacant. While you can save quite a bit doing this with a fridge, you'd want to weigh up the risk of guests leaving food in there.
  • If you've got lighting circuits that have halogens and use a lot of power, add a Z-wave module that will let you shut them down too. 

If you have a whole home ducted system, many of them have an "automation interface" which lets you turn the system on/off using a Z-wave relay. There's also an Infrared solution if your Airconditioner has a remote control. I've even seen some clever Airbnb hosts set up a door sensor on their balcony, so that if people are out on the balcony with the left door open the aircon turns off after 10 minutes.

If you've got questions on how to make being an Airbnb host easier and more profitable, feel free to contact us.

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