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Handling Heat Waves: Best Practices for Short-Term Rentals in Phoenix and Houston

With average summer temperatures above 90 degrees in Texas and 100 degrees in Arizona, with hardly any days of rain in the latter, vacation rental owners in Houston and Phoenix know how tough it is to beat the heat.

And with the past few years being some of the hottest on record, that challenge isn't likely to disappear any time soon. That's why we've put together this guide to the best ways to keep your short-term rental property cool during heat waves so that your guests can enjoy their stay!

How to Beat the Heat at Your Short-Term Rental Property

First off, let's make it clear how serious of an issue heat can be. At best, excess temperature during a heat wave makes you uncomfortable (hardly the last thing you want an Airbnb or Vrbo guest to be feeling!). At worst, getting overheated can have serious health consequences.

Among other complications, spending long periods in intense heat can lead to heatstroke (in which your body is unable to sweat enough to cool you down, leading to overheating), heat exhaustion (which is typically connected to overexertion and becoming dehydrated), and even hives (a potential allergic reaction to sweat and heat).

Escaping a heat wave may not be as simple as going inside, either. Since apartments, houses, and other units can all trap heat exceptionally well, a guest eager to escape a heat wave may not find the relief they are seeking by going into your vacation rental property.

The cash value of all this is that, as a short-term rental host, you must keep your guests safe by keeping your property at a manageable temperature.

For starters, set your thermostat to an appropriate temperature that also fits your budget. You don't necessarily need to keep your A/C running at 72 degrees. Still, you shouldn't let the internal temperature of the residence get hotter than about 75-78 degrees even if no one is using the property. Keeping the A/C on during the high-temperature months will allow your renters to come into the home and be able to get to a comfortable temperature quickly. 

Install Reflective Window Shades

Fortunately, when it comes to fighting off heat waves, cranking up your A/C isn't your only option. There are plenty of cost-effective ways to keep a property's temperatures low and comfort levels high, at least within reason relative to your budget.

One of the best ways to do so is to prevent as much sunlight from entering your vacation rental unit as possible. Keeping the blinds closed throughout the day, especially during peak times of sunshine (that is, between mid-afternoon and early evening), will prevent direct sunlight from entering your property and keep the place cooler.

The hours of the day with the most significant amount of direct sunlight will vary. For Phoenix and Houston in the summer, you should have your blinds closed between 2:00 and 5:00 pm at the latest. The reason that mid-afternoon is hotter than noon is that the earth absorbs the most sunlight when the sun is at its highest (i.e., around noon) but doesn't start releasing that heat for a few hours.

It would help if you also left your blinds or curtains open at night to increase nighttime cooling and maintain a steady temperature overnight.

Apart from simply closing the blinds at high-sunshine times of the day, you can also optimize your blinds for maximum sunlight blockage. Light-colored or neutral blinds or curtains will do the best job reflecting heat, while blackout curtains can also keep the house cool by almost completely blocking out all incoming light.

Another trick for controlling your rental house or apartment temperature is to install window film, which sticks to the window frame and blocks heat from transferring through the window gloss. Window film or its upgraded version, temperature control firm, helps you save money by keeping your property cooler and lowering your energy bill.

Optimize Your Airflow

As you might imagine, airflow is another key part of keeping your vacation rental property cool during the hottest times of the year. The efficiency of any A/C system is dependent in large part on how well air can flow through the vents and rooms of your house.

If your property has trouble staying cool during heat waves, encourage your guests to create an optimal airflow for their comfort. If a room isn't being used (e.g., a spare bedroom the guests don't need), keep that door closed while leaving doors for the bathroom open, which helps ensure that air flows best to the areas that need it most.

Setting up a portable fan (such as a box fan) or a portable A/C unit will also keep a given room cooler. If the primary bedroom of your rental unit gets overheated during the summer, set up an oscillating fan in one corner to keep your guests feeling relaxed and comfortable.

Other tricks include putting a large bowl filled with ice in front of a fan to create a portable A/C unit. Even placing a box fan in an open window pointing outward so that it pulls hot air out of the room can help keep things cool.

Many of these tips seem small and insignificant, but doing enough of these little things can work wonders for the overall temperature of your vacation property.

Install Energy-Efficient Light Bulbs

Save money in more ways than one by upgrading the light bulbs throughout your vacation home. Unlike regular incandescent bulbs, energy-efficient light bulbs (such as LEDs) don't radiate much excess heat, meaning you'll save money on your electric bill (because the new bulbs are more efficient) and on the cost of running your A/C (since your air conditioning unit won't have to work as hard to keep your place cool).

Simply picking up a pack or two of energy-efficient light bulbs at your local hardware store and swapping out all your short-term rental's current bulbs can help keep the temperature cool while also saving you money in the long run. It'll take an afternoon, but that's relatively little time to spend in order to keep your vacation rental guests happy and healthy.

Another way to cut down on energy usage is to unplug electronics whenever they're not in use. Doing so can help cut down on your monthly utilities bill while also sparing the energy grid. Putting less strain on the local utility supplier may lower the risk of blowing a fuse during a summer storm power surge, which is the last thing you want to happen with guests checked in!

Obviously, you'll want to re-plug any unplugged appliances before any of your guests arrive. Nevertheless, keeping any sound systems, entertainment devices, or small kitchen appliances unplugged between bookings can go a long way toward lowering your monthly bill and keeping your rental home's electrical systems up and running.

Vent Hot Air in the Kitchen

Another simple trick to get rid of hot air that has built up in your apartment is to use your bathroom fan(s) and (if your kitchen is equipped with a range hood) your stove fan to extract hot air from the property. These fans are primarily designed to suck out odors (in the case of the bathroom fan) and smoke or cooking smells (in the case of range hood fans).

Either way, these kitchen and bathroom fans can also help pull hot air out of your house or apartment, allowing your A/C unit to cool the room faster. Run these fans right before those guests check in so that you can vent any hot air out of the kitchen and bathrooms.

Even though it may not immediately cause the temperature to drop, it will remove stifling hot air and keep your guests comfortable from the moment they walk through the door.

Speaking of the kitchen, encourage your guests to minimize cooking with the oven or stovetop during heat waves, as this can significantly raise the temperature inside the vacation rental unit. Cooking outdoors (such as a barbecue) or with a crock pot or Instant Pot are alternative cooking methods that won't heat the place.

Repaint the Walls in Lighter Colors

If you've been looking for a chance to redecorate, one of the best excuses you could ask for is the fact that the right coat of paint can help heat-proof your short-term rental property.

Due to their lower amount of pigmentation, white paints, and other light-colored or neutral paints absorb less heat than darker paints, which means that lighter paints reflect heat and light instead of retaining it. As a result, repainting one or more of the rooms in your vacation home can not only upgrade the style of the place but also make it easier to keep the temperature under control.

If you don't have the time, energy, or budget to repaint every single room of the vacation home, focus on the rooms that will have the most traffic, such as the bathroom, kitchen, or master bedroom. That way, you can upgrade the aesthetics of your vacation home while also keeping the most critical areas cooler as well.

Even repainting a single accent wall in each room could have positive results, though obviously less so than if you were to paint over every wall in the house.

Add Weather Stripping and Insulation

As we said before, air flow and heat transfer are essential considerations when fighting against excessive heat, especially in Houston, Phoenix, and other Southern cities and towns. Air leakage can be a big culprit when it comes to inefficient heating and cooling.

Insulation not only keeps a home warm during winter by retaining heat but also helps keep a house cool during the summer by keeping hot air out and cold air in. However, if a home has poor insulation or weather stripping, then hot air from the outside world can easily slip through small holes and cracks and boost your interior temperature, which in turn forces your A/C unit to work harder, driving up your utility bill and keeping your 

HVAC system from reaching maximum energy efficiency.

The solution is relatively simple, albeit somewhat time-consuming, at the start. Go throughout the vacation home and add weather stripping to any doors or windows that lack it, and make sure each wall has sufficient insulation. Taking these steps can help prevent hot air from leaking into your property and cold air from leaking out.

Unlike most of the other tips in this article, this is one you'd have to run by your landlord if you rent your vacation property. However, if you own the short-term rental property outright, then, by all means, insulate away!

Contact Us Today!

As bleak as a heat wave can seem, there's no shortage of ways you can fight to lower your rental home's temperature enough to keep your guests both safe and comfortable.

For more guidance and insight into managing your Phoenix- or Houston-area Airbnb, Vrbo, or 

another vacation rental property, contact the team at Vello to learn how you can maximize your earnings with the help of a property manager today! Stay safe during those hot summer months, and stay frosty!

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